I look forward to this all-American holiday every year because it’s a chance to stop and give thanks for all the good things in our lives. What better way to slow down than spending some quality time with family and friends? Of course, a lot of that time ends up being stuffed with food and drink. Between snacking and sitting down for a traditional turkey-with-all-the-trimmings 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. So, I thought I’d get these survival tips posted a few days in advance of the calorie-filled holiday ahead:
- Move it! Don’t skimp on the activity this week. Remember, ten minutes of exercise are always better than zero. The bonus is you’ll have the mental boost knowing you made an effort prior to the Turkey Day feast. 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 first thing in the morning. Or sneak out for some fresh air and 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 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 sensible snack so you don’t go overboard later. Two ideas: non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a serving of almonds mixed in 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.
- Portion Control: Use a salad or other small dish for your meal. Start with salad or veggies and then add the 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 – before moving on to dessert, of course!
- Keep Track of the Libations: This is the perfect day to follow the every-other-drink-is-alcohol plan. Enjoy a glass of wine, beer or cocktail then have a glass of still or sparking water before moving on to the next cocktail.
- Make Doggie Bags! Hosting the holiday feast? Don’t be shy about giving some of the uneaten turkey and trimmings to your guests.
Let me offer my heartfelt wishes for everyone to enjoy a very Happy Thanksgiving! Each year, I’m even more thankful for so many things including my family, my friends, my health and for the support I receive from my “fitfam,” which includes all my loyal readers. One final note: If you end up breaking the calorie bank this Thanksgiving, don’t sweat it. Remember, laughter, good food and even some good wine are all ingredients in many holiday recipes for a happy heart and the soul and part of our ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
This is anything but your typical motivation Monday post. The truth is I can’t focus on offering healthy food tips or a shot of encouragement to get to the gym when I am coming to grips with a an inexplicable loss.
My friend Liz lost her brave battle with breast cancer yesterday. You may remember her from my posts about the Avon39 Walk. I was blessed to meet Liz during my days at St. Mary’s High School. Thanks to Facebook, we reconnected long after our 1991 graduation and I felt like we picked up right where we left off. Then a few years ago, the unthinkable happened. Liz was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. It’s a bit of a blur right now, but all of a sudden, other St. Mary’s Gaels banded together to support Liz. Everyone wanted to do something to help. And honestly, I think most of us never believed this day would come. Despite the dire diagnosis, if anyone was going to beat the odds and kick cancer’s ass, it was Liz.
Her fight was relentless. She researched the different types of chemotherapy; sought out alternative treatments and was always so careful about what she ate and what she exposed her body to. I remember all the chats and email exchanges we had about the power of yoga, stretching and exercise and how it helped her feel stronger. She eventually traveled to Europe to undergo treatments not available here. She fought, she prayed and she showed all of us how to face adversity with determination and grace.
I had already been touched by breast cancer when my mom was diagnosed in 2008. She beat it. My mom’s battle made me want to do something to join the fight against breast cancer. Then Liz got sick. Then my friend Sue decided to join in Avon39, and I decided to join her. Sue and I have now finished three Walks together, and had other gal pals join in the 39.3 mile journey in 2015 and 2016. Liz was with us in spirit for every step of every mile, and she will continue to be there as we make plans for 2017 and beyond.
I was lucky to be with my parents when I got the news about Liz. Amidst my tears and sadness, my mom pointed out something extraordinary. Last night’s moon was the biggest since 1948. We won’t see another one like it again until 2034. I have no doubt that brightness was Liz’s light shining down on all of us wanting us to live, laugh and love. It is because of Liz that I was reunited with women I missed for years. Because of her, I was blessed to rekindle friendships I know will stand the test of time.
My faith gives me comfort that I will see Liz again. For now, I wish her peace and will remain forever grateful for the gift of her friendship. Thank you to all my readers for allowing me this detour from my normal weekly writing path. My only words of encouragement for the week ahead are these: tell those who are most important to you that you love them, and live each day to the fullest.
Attention fellow chocolate lovers: This Motivation Monday is full of good news! Not only is it Halloween, a day many of us get to indulge in a few sweet treats, but it’s also the day I’m sharing some feel-no-guilt information from registered dietitian Keri Glassman. Keri was kind enough to shatter some food myths for my LauraLovesFitness readers.
Before you dive into her informative video, I did want to let everyone know my Dad continues his recovery after back surgery and is getting stronger every day. Thank you again for all the amazing support and concern!
Now, I hope you enjoy Keri’s informative video and that you have an entire week filled with endless opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
What a difference one week makes.
It’s hard to believe it was only seven days ago when I shared my excitement and exhaustion after completing my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. On this Motivation Monday, I find myself experiencing those same polar opposites again. I’m overjoyed my father made it through severe spinal surgery five days ago, and I’m exhausted for the very same reason.
Obviously, this experience turned my normal routine upside down. Workouts were skipped; my eating-every-three-hours rule was broken; veggies and fruits were forgotten and sleeping came in small fits at best. However, one week of disruption is a small price to pay for my dad’s well-being. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this post, he’ll be on his way home from the hospital or maybe he’s already resting in his own bed. That makes today the start of getting back to normal.
Dad has four to six weeks of recovery ahead of him. That means a little extra worry for Mom and me while we try to keep him comfortable. But things will soon fall into a rhythm like they always do, even when those things are a little out of the ordinary. Workout schedules and healthy eating habits can be resumed, but having your loved ones healthy and happy can’t always be guaranteed. So, I’ll embrace the schedule changes knowing I still have my Dad going strong at 80-years-young.
I close this not-so-fitness-focused post with a huge thank you to my family, friends and everyone who offered prayers, support and concern during an overwhelming few days. With such an amazing support team behind me, I know it’s only a matter of time before I get back on track with my own plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
While doing the same thing over and over again can sometimes lead to boredom, I guarantee walking 39.3 miles in the fight against breast cancer is not one of them.
As I sit here on this Sunday night covered in sports cream and fighting to stay awake after completing my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, I hope you’ll forgive this somewhat simplistic but heartfelt Motivation Monday post. I offer two lists that sum up my emotions another unforgettable weekend here in New York City.
What I’m Thankful For:
- My mom is now an eight-year survivor.
- My generous supporters who got me to the starting line.
- Joining my friend Sue for our third Avon39 Walk together.
- Adding Molly, another St. Mary’s Gael, to this year’s experience.
- The birth of two new friendships with Liz, a survivor; and Lori, Liz’s friend who flew in from Dallas.
- The fun “hairstyle” Sue created for all of us, quickly transforming us into the fierce five unofficially known as “Team Troll.”
- Seeing countless survivor t-shirts and pins along the walk.
- Meeting so many people with unstoppable strength and determination, including Mike, whose 39.3-mile journey in Manhattan marked his 100th Avon39 walk to date.
- The Avon39 crew members who kept us safe and cheered for us along 26.2 miles on Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday.
- The strangers who took some time out of their weekend to stand on a street corner and offer a high-five of support.
What I Hope For:
- To see even more survivors, including another high school gal pal Elizabeth, on next year’s walk.
- To see more New Yorkers out on the streets on future walk weekends showing the pink warriors some love.
- That one day in my Goddaughters’ lifetimes, we won’t have to ever walk again.
I wrap things up with a huge thank you to everyone who generously supported my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. Because of you I threw a 5,175-dollar punch in the fight against breast cancer, making this my biggest fundraising year yet. Please know that money will be used to support organizations that help men and women, regardless of their ability to pay, receive the medical care they need. I also want to thank everyone for your encouraging emails and texts and all those who liked or shared my social media posts documenting my preparation for the journey right through the weekends’ highs. I simply couldn’t have done any of this without an amazing team behind me. If you’d like to see even more fun photos from the weekend, you’ll find them on my LauraLovesFitness Facebook page.
If you’ve been thinking about being a part of Avon39 or other activities to wage war against a disease that remains the number one cancer killer of women, now’s the time to get out there and do it! Putting your best foot forward – literally – is probably one of the most empowering ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Wow. Here we are celebrating another Columbus Day and marching toward the middle of October. Meanwhile, more holiday displays keep popping up in the stores. To me, it’s all proof that time flies by faster each year and life simply gets more hectic as we get older.
If you’re a parent, you struggle with the complexities of your children growing up. All of us eventually face challenges as our parents age. At times, situations can be overwhelming and paralyzing. This is why it’s so important to carve out some precious moments of time to pause and regroup. Little did I know I’d find a big jolt of strength spending 30 minutes doing something I hadn’t done in far too long.
On Saturday morning after my usual Physique57 workout, I stayed an extra half hour for stretch class. Those 30 minutes did more wonders than I can explain. If I had an internal pause button, I’d say it clicked. That allowed me to worry only about three things for 30 minutes: inhaling, exhaling and holding stretches to release some of the tension in the multiple tight spots of my body.
I often write about the importance of making for ourselves, but today I offer the reminder that sometimes that means finding a few moments to simply breathe deeply and stretch. What is your body telling you? Maybe it doesn’t need the hard-core boot-camp experience today. Maybe the lungs need to fill up with some extra air and your muscles need some TLC. As my wonderful instructor Lindi reminded us throughout the stretch session, sometimes you also need to shut out the noise and remember the good things in your life: the people who make you smile or a memory of a family get together or carefree moment at the beach.
As we all get back into fall sports, now’s the perfect time to re-focus your attention on flexibility and the all-important stretches too many of us skip as we rush out of the gym to our next busy activity. A lot of injuries happen at this time of year as people get back to their not-so-lazy-days-of-summer routines. Remember – if you haven’t played fall ball since…well, last fall…you need to warm up and be careful with muscles that may have been inactive for awhile.
If you’re off on this Motivation Monday for the holiday, why not take just 10 minutes to breathe in some air, think about stretching out the kinks in your hard-working body or at least plan a 10 to 20 minute block of time this week when you can. Whether you want to try a new group exercise class, meditation or a new nutrition program, deciding on a new goal is the first big step in making things happen on our never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I classify snacks in two groups:
- The healthy ones you choose throughout the day to keep you body fueled and your blood levels at an even keel and
- The not-so-healthy ones you enjoy at a party or on those rare occasions you get to chill out on the couch.
As a strong believer in the power of eating several small meals throughout the day, I’m always on the lookout for healthy snack options. My go-tos include hard-boiled eggs, raw almonds, green apples, fat-free plain Greek yogurt and KIND bars. If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile, you also know I also enjoy my treats, especially when I can share them with friends and family. Which brings me to one of the biggest reasons people get together in the fall: football!
If your idea of “Sunday Funday” includes sporting your team’s jersey, sipping a few beers and savoring some indulgences, here are three ideas to enjoy those good times without the side serving of guilt:
- Spice Up Your Popcorn: Microwave popcorn has always been one of my favorite lo-cal snacks. To make it more fun for game day, try adding some chili powder, pepper or paprika to the bag or bowl. (Just be sure to put some muscle into it and shake well!)
- Healthy chili: How would you like to enjoy a hearty, hot bowl of chili packed with only 75 calories and 1. 5 grams of fat? It’s possible, thanks to this Weight Watchers “one-point chili” recipe my mom introduced me to years ago. Click here for the easy recipe. Since I’m not a big cook, I like to make a big batch so I can freeze some and nuke it later.
- A Better Way to Dip – Swap out breads and chips for crunchy, healthy celery or carrot sticks and dip those veggies into a whole new kind of creaminess. Chobani’s Meze Dips have just 25 calories and one gram of fat per serving. (Traditional French onions dips pack five or more grams of fat and at least 60 calories per serving.) With flavors like Roasted Red Pepper, Three Pepper Salsa and Smoked Onion Parmesan, there’s a yummy fix for all your savory cravings. The following are some of Chobani’s tasty and colorful alternatives to those traditional chip-and-dip days:
So, what’s YOUR favorite healthy football or other seasonal snack? Remember, if you do go a little overboard on Sunday Funday or any other day of the week – don’t sweat it. Sometimes you have to be a little bad to get back to the good on this never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
- This is the month the most important woman in my life, my mom, came into the world and
- It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month
In exactly two weeks from the moment you’re reading this, I’ll be making strides in my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. Thanks to a generous group of friends and family, this looks to be my biggest fundraising year yet. Now I’m pulling out the stops to bring in as many dollars as I can in the fight against breast cancer.
The money raised will help fund research, awareness and education while also providing assistance for those affected by breast cancer and their loved ones. My beloved mom is a breast cancer survivor and one of my high school friends continues to wage her own war against the disease, so I can tell you from experience how each and every dollar really does count. I hope you’ll consider joining the fight. All you need to do is click here to make your tax-deductible donation. In case you’re wondering, more than 3,500 people participated in Avon39 here in New York City and raised more than $8.7 million. Since 2003, Avon39 walks around the country have raised nearly $590 million.
Aside from fundraising, I’ve been busy breaking in my sneakers on 10- and 13-mile training walks with my amazingly supportive boyfriend. I have at least two more training “sessions” in my future before the October 15th start. Soon, I’ll be buying my moisture-wicking socks, Band-Aid Friction Stick and other Walk “tools” for the 39.3-mile journey around Manhattan. Each day, I’m getting more and more excited to join fellow St. Mary’s Gael Sue for our third walk together. This year, we’re excited to have Molly, another high school gal pal, join in the fun! While Avon39 has become one of my new favorite fall traditions, my hope is that one day we won’t have to walk anymore.
One final note before you go off and enjoy some well-deserved weekend fun: thank you to all my readers for supporting all my adventures on this never-ending road to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!