Thanks for the Motivation, Easter Bunny!

Here’s hoping this Easter Monday post finds everyone happy and healthy after a great weekend!

If you’re looking for some motivation to get moving today, perhaps all you need to do is look at the empty Easter basket on your kitchen counter. Here’s a tally of the damage from some of the 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

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!

 

Spring into Fitness!

Can't Wait to Take the Action Outside! Photo by: Leslie Hassler

Can’t Wait to Take the Action Outside!
Photo by: Leslie Hassler

Happy first Motivation Monday of spring!

Despite the messy start here in New York City, we’ve officially welcomed a brand new season. That means there’s a whole new batch of opportunities to get moving! If you hibernated a bit during the winter, don’t sweat it. It happens to the best of us. Now’s the time to get off the couch, leave the winter blues behind and map out a plan for a FITASTIC season ahead.

The video below offers some ideas for help your spring fitness plans take shape with a little help from Alexia Foods and Cold-EEZE. (Full disclosure: I was a paid spokesperson for this segment, but please note, I would never represent a brand I didn’t believe in!) Remember, mapping out some realistic goals and using the extra daylight can make this spring your best ever filled with plenty of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

A Sleepy Motivation Monday

iStock_000008015531LargeEach year at this time, Daylight Saving offers what I consider to be a double-edged sword. Our days are filled with more minutes of sunlight as the winter winds down.  However, as most of us set our  clocks ahead before turning in on Saturday night, we lost an hour of sleep.  So on this drowsy Motivation Monday, instead of offering a boost to prep your veggies or stretch more often, I encourage you to take stock of something that’s crucial to our overall health but often overlooked: your sleep habits.

Why do we need sleep? Research shows along with helping us stay energized, sleep helps regulate our mood and learn and retain valuable information. There are even studies out there linking inadequate sleep to weight gain. On a personal note, when I rack up too many consecutive nights without enough shut-eye, it’s harder to concentrate on everything from my work to my workouts and I definitely get more annoyed by the little things that usually roll off my back.

Here are some ideas for incorporating those all-important zzzz’s into your healthy routine:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can help you sleep. However, if I exercise less than two hours before going to bed, the endorphins keep me up. Aim to wrap a workout three hours before bedtime.
  • Alcohol: Anyone who’s read this blog for some time knows I enjoy a glass of wine to unwind 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. Of course, having a hangover the next day after too many libations is never a good thing.
  • Caffeine: I have some friends who can have a cup of coffee after dinner at 8 pm and still fall asleep at 10:30 pm. If I have caffeine after 3 pm, I’m looking at a rough night ahead. The key is to pay attention to how your body reacts. Make sure you check for “hidden” caffeine in things like herbal teas and chocolate.
  • Hunger:  The bottom line is you don’t want to go to bed hungry, but you don’t want to be too full either. I try not to snack at night after dinner, but if I do, I go for a single-serve bag of 94% fat-free popcorn, a skinny cow fudge pop or a few clementines or mandarins. Frozen grapes are great for taming those sweet cravings, too.
  • Stress:  This is something I am constantly trying to manage a little better. One thing that’s helped the past few months is writing down all the things I have to do the next day before getting into bed. Whether it’s Physique57 class, conference calls, deadlines or things I need at the grocery store, it helps to have it all out in front of me and then I can unwind.
  • 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 overstimulating when your body is trying to wind down. Aim to power down at least 30 minutes before closing those tired eyes for the night.

Remember, if you’ve made the commitment to workout and watch what you eat, you owe it to yourself to give your body time to rest and recharge. It’s all part of the winning formula to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

To Workout or Not to Workout…

coldThe inspiration for this Motivation Monday message came to me at Church. Everyone sitting around me at Sunday morning’s family Mass was either sneezing or coughing, especially the kids. When I got home, I washed my hands and thought now’s as good a time as any to offer reminders about when to consider skipping the gym to help your body get over a bug and keep your fellow fitness friends from getting sick, too.

The American College of Sports Medicine has outlined what you could call the “above/below-the-neck rule.” If your symptoms include the sniffles, runny nose and scratchy throat, studies show mild-to-moderate exercise isn’t harmful.  This could include a low/moderate intensity cardio workout that almost constantly keeps your heart rate in a range between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate.  (Reminder: to calculate max heart rate: 220-your age)  However, ACSM recommends you skip the heavy weight training or high-intensity cardio until you do beat your cold. Working out at too high an intensity when you’re fighting a bug puts extra stress on the body and can further compromise the immune system.

If you’re able to exercise and head to a gym, do your fellow gym members a favor. Wipe down any equipment you use with the anti-bacterial spray that’s sure to be made available by the facility. It’s just common courtesy!

As for the below-the-neck “stuff”: If you’re suffering from stomach issues including vomiting or diarrhea, or have a severe cough or fever, do everyone a favor and take a break from exercise until whatever’s ailing you has run its course. Also, if you’re knocked out by a serious bug for several days, remember to take it easy on your first day back in action. There’s a good chance you’ll be slightly dehydrated and feeling fatigued, so don’t jump out of bed and rush to your highest-intensity bootcamp class the minute your fever breaks.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: listen to your body! It’s true that one the benefits of exercise is that it boosts the immune system. However, what’s also true is that depending on what’s going on in your life, your body may need an extra hour of sleep one morning more than it needs to be pushed to the max at a kickboxing class.

Remember, a minimum of one day of rest each week is important, but when you’re sick, you may need two or more. Don’t sweat it. Just rest up, drink your fluids and before you know it, you’ll be back on your feet and back on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Indulging CAN Be Good For You!

iStock_000018985469SmallThis Motivation Monday totally snuck up on me. Let’s just say things are a little crazy right now. So today’s post is all about keeping things simple, light and hopefully a little fun, too.

Some of my readers already know I’ve been studying for many months now to receive my Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS) certificate through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). It’s been great putting some science behind my longterm beliefs in what can be considered “healthy eating.” That includes learning how our bodies rely on the right balance of nutrients to function properly. One chapter I found particularly interesting was about a group that falls outside the nutrient spectrum – trace elements.

What are trace elements? They’re minerals the body needs in small amounts – less than 100 milligrams per day – and the total amount of each trace element in the body is less than five grams. Despite the small amount of space they take up in our overall anatomy, they’re crucial to many body functions and essential for growth and the normal function of our immune system. More specifically, the trace minerals we need are: iron, copper, zinc, copper, fluoride, selenium, iodine, molybdenum, chromium and manganese.

IMG_2723Now that I’ve gotten a little “science-y” on you, here’s where the fun comes in: a couple of these trace elements can be found in…drumroll please….chocolate, peanut butter, wine and some beers!

Copper – which helps with immune function and iron utilization -can be found in peanut butter and chocolate! (I should point out, it’s also found in organ meats, shellfish, nuts and seeds). Meanwhile, rich sources of chromium include dark chocolate, wine and beer (along with mushrooms, asparagus and prunes.) Chromium plays a part in the normal use of insulin to promote glucose use.

So, while I’m not here telling you to overload your cabinets  with chocolate and booze, I thought you wouldn’t mind learning that indulgences really can be good for you – in moderation, of course! Along with making the taste buds happy and boosting your mood, you’re actually giving your body things it can use. The next time you enjoy that dark chocolate square or savor a glass of your favorite vintage, smile and know it’s all part of the plan to have fun, be fit, and feel fabulous!

Keep It Simple

iStock_000018191976XSmallI think it’s safe to say most adults will agree with the old saying “timing is everything.” In fact, I credit good timing as the inspiration for this Motivation Monday post featuring some simple ways to make healthier choices.

Not too long ago, I wrote about the importance of taking small steps when trying to lose weight. That post included some easy ways to cut approximately one hundred calories from your meals. A few days later, the social media team at Chobani reached out to me about their new Simply 100 Crunch line. If you’ve been looking to spice up your snack options, these yummy yogurts can help you satisfy your sweet or savory cravings with a variety of protein-packed flavors.  Since I’m always promoting small changes that can add up to big results, I thought this Chobani connection happened at a perfect time.

The final piece of the puzzle in this perfect-timing scenario? Chobani even put together a dozen fun ways to help everyone “crunch the numbers” and burn 100 calories. Since I knew my writing time would be limited because of a business trip, I was happy to get some solid material to share with my readers! Before you jump into the fun graphic below, here are a few other quick tips to live a little lighter:

  • Drink up: It’s easy to remember to hydrate during the warm-weather months, but drinking water is important all-year round. The dry, forced heat in offices, schools or apartments can also make your skin dry, so drinking water can help – along with some good moisturizer, of course!
  • Keep a food journal: I started doing this in Weight Watchers years ago, and as a lifetime member since 2012, I continue to write down what I eat. Having the information on paper can help you see where you slipped up and make better choices.
  • Put fitness plans and progress in writing, too! Did you book that group exercise class for two days from now? Be sure to put a sticky note on the fridge or set a reminder in your smartphone so you get there. Also make notes when you add time to your cardio circuit or increase weight or reps during a class or weight training session. Seeing progress is one of the biggest motivators of all!

I hope you have fun with the ideas below and don’t be shy about letting me know some of the ways you’re living lighter in 2016! For recipe ideas and other tidbits, check out  thelightthatsright.com  Thanks again to Chobani for reaching out at the perfect time. There’s nothing like a little teamwork to help more people on their journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

chobani_100cal_12version

Operator Error

Hello readers!
Well, I blame it on the remnants of jet lag, but it happened again. I accidentally scheduled a post for today instead of tomorrow. that means my subscribers received a post of mumbo-jumbo this morning before I had a chance to edit and finalize the copy.

Please disregard the writing mess and stay tuned for the real deal tomorrow. Here’s wishing everyone a happy and healthy Sunday!

Presidential-Sized Motivation

e American Background. Independence Backdrop.

This Motivation Monday is a little different for everyone. It’s one of those American holidays when you’ll find some offices and schools closed while others remain open. Here in New York, I know lots of people enjoying an escape from the ordinary for a long weekend or a whole week thanks to their kids being on winter break. Whatever you’re doing today, I hope you find the time to get some exercise into your routine.

This holiday was originally established to recognize President George Washington, but today it’s viewed as a time to celebrate all U.S presidents. If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile, you know I like to share motivational quotes once in awhile. Considering we’re in the midst of an election year, I thought it was a great opportunity to offer a few words of wisdom from some of America’s leaders. Please note, this is a total non-partisan group of quotes – I simply chose words that moved me. I think it’s great when words from history can provide a source of inspiration and help us on our current quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.”George Washington 

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” –Andrew Jackson 

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” –Abraham Lincoln 

“We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage.” -Teddy Roosevelt

 

 

Birthday Reflections

Not a Bad Place to Wrap Up 41...

Escape to Curacao: My Favorite Memory From the End of My 41st Year.

Wow. Time really does fly. I’m not sure where the past year went, but this Motivation Monday marks the last day of my 41st year on the planet.

As I sit here and reflect on life, as I think many of us do when another birthday rolls around, I’m overwhelmed by a sense of honesty. Honesty about how getting older is both good and bad for so many reasons.

While experience has probably made me a bit wiser than I was on this date in 2015, knowledge does come with a cost. Over the years, I’ve gained more confidence to be myself and follow my heart in challenging situations. That courage of conviction, however, is the result of seeing more and more evidence of how short our time is here on this Earth.

My parents and other loved ones are getting older. Some of my friends have already lost one or both parents. Some friends – older and younger than me – are in a fight for their own lives. Jobs are lost, marriages fall apart and sometimes people you never thought you’d be without move far away in the hopes of working toward a better future. I know these events are simply part of this windy road we call life, but it seems they’ve arrived in a flurry since I started my 40s.

Please don’t think this is a sad reflection on turning a year older. It’s simply a realization that despite the challenges that have snuck up on me through the decades, I’m both lucky and blessed to have my family and an amazing support network of friends to keep me grounded. The two other stabilizing factors in my life have been my faith and my love for exercise. Since turning 40, I’ve made bigger strides to eat healthier than I ever have before. The result of this combination is not only being in the best physical shape of my life, but my mental health is in a good place, too. Sometimes all I need is an hour to work up a good sweat so I can face whatever the day throws at me – a demanding client; a phone call with a friend going through a rough time or news about someone I love receiving a terrible diagnosis – with more courage than I thought I had in me.

I’m definitely looking forward to what’s next. What will happen in my ever-changing career? What special occasions will I get to share with friends and family? For starters, I plan to kick off my 42nd year with a good Physique57 workout, a little mani-pedi pampering and a perhaps a minor overdose of chocolate and prosecco with a heaping side portion of laughter with friends. Let me take this moment to thank my family, friends and all my readers for helping me face my birthday with a smile. Here’s to a new year ahead filled with endless chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Happy American Heart Month!

iStock_000018172590MediumWhat better way to kick off American Heart Month than with a Motivation Monday?

If you’re still looking for a reason to stick with your healthy resolutions, this is a big one. There’s simply no time like today to take stock of how well you’re taking care of your ticker. That includes evaluating how much cardiovascular exercise you’re incorporating into your routine.

I’ve always been amazed at how people react to just hearing the word cardio, which is short for cardiovascular exercise. People like me can’t get enough, while others simply dread it. However, since cardiovascular exercise is defined as any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation, that doesn’t mean you have to walk nowhere on a treadmill or clock miles on a stationary bike for an hour. Tabatas, other high-intensity training methods and circuit training done with little rest in between sets are all great ways to get that much-needed cardio boost for your heart and the rest of your body.

If you still need a good reason to find the right kind of cardio for your mindset, here are three:
  1. Burn, baby burn: The bottom line is cardio burns calories. If you’re looking to lose weight, the Law of Thermodynamics dictates you have to burn more calories than you take in. So, adding some cardio to your routine is a great way to burn calories, and ultimately shed some pounds. Similarly, cardio increases the rate of your metabolism which helps you not only with weight loss, but weight maintenance, too.
  2. A Tip-Top Ticker: Your heart is a muscle, so just like the others in your body, it gets stronger by doing work. When you don’t work a muscle, it weakens over time. So getting the heart pumping at a faster rate on a regular basis will keep it in shape. Medical conditions aside, when people get winded from walking up one flight of stairs or doing other simple activities, it can be a sign that the heart muscle is simply being neglected.
  3. Feel-Good Vibes Guaranteed: Cardio helps your body release the feel-good hormones called endorphins. These hormones help fight symptoms of depression and fatigue and can stay with you long after the sweat dries from your workout wear.
Still on the fence? While I’m not one for scare tactics, here are some statistics from the Centers for Disease Control  and Prevention (CDC) that will hopefully get you off the couch:
  • Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
  • About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. That’s one in ever four deaths.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease.

While your family history can put you at greater risk, there are lifestyle choices each of us can make to decrease our behavioral risk factors for heart disease. These include obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol  and diabetes. Guess what? Along with quitting smoking and following a healthy diet, getting exercise one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against heart disease.

I’m not saying you have to run out to a boot camp class or sign up for a half-marathon during today’s lunch break. I’m talking about 30 minutes of activity five days a week. Still overwhelmed? Try this: break those 30-minutes down into two 15-minute or three 10-minute sessions.

If you’ve never exercised before, there’s no time like American Heart Month to get moving. Schedule brisk morning or evening walks around the neighborhood or get a fitness game for the kids’ video console. If you’re thinking of joining a gym, sign up with a workout buddy for support. Try different group exercise classes until you find one you like so you’ll look forward to sweating it out a couple of times a week. Treat yourself to a couple of personal training sessions so you learn to safely navigate your way through a fitness routine. This is your health we’re talking about. You’re the one who has the final word on any decision that can help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

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