Special Saturday Edition: Happy October!

Getting Pumped for Walk #3!

Getting Pumped for Walk #3!

I’m making this rare Saturday “appearance” to wish everyone a happy and healthy start to the new month! October is important to me for two very good reasons:

  1. This is the month the most important woman in my life, my mom, came into the world and
  2. 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!

Time for Fall Fitness Fun!

Here Comes the Fall!

Welcome Fall!

Welcome to the first Motivation Monday of fall! I’ll admit I tend to get a little sad when summer, my favorite season, comes to end; but I perk up quickly when I think about all the opportunities to try new things on the health and fitness front.

Talk about perfect timing: I was recently inspired by Cotopaxi who offered a great infographic to share with my readers featuring simple ways to make healthier choices. It made its debut around World Health Day, but since I consider each day we’re lucky enough to open our eyes a new opportunity to own our healthy decisions, I thought it offered a great perspective at the start of the new season. As of today, there are 84 fall-filled days to try some new activities and simply do great things for our bodies, minds and souls.

Here are my top two tips for the season ahead:

  • Take a Hike – seriously! You don’t have to climb to the top of a mountain to get your heart rate up and muscles moving in the great outdoors. Even if you live in a concrete jungle like like yours truly, a nearby park, deserted beach or those trails you’ve always wanted to explore are just waiting for you. For some added weight resistance, wear a backpack filled with minimal but important essentials including a water bottle; a healthy snack; identification, and a few portable first aid items like Band-Aids and some antiseptic wipes. Don’t have a backpack? Why not treat yourself to one from Cotopaxi, since a percentage of every sale is donated to various organizations that support global health initiatives. (Learn more about the company’s mission here.)
  • Stock up on seasonal snacks! Whether you pick them in an orchard or find them at a nearby farmer’s market or grocery store, ’tis the season to bite into lots of crisp, delicious apples! Consider pairing one with a handful of almonds, pistachios or pumpkin seeds for a portable, powerful snack wherever the day or trail takes you.

So what’s on your fitness agenda for the fall of 2016? I’d love to hear from you! Thanks again to Cotopaxi for reaching out and for the additional ideas below. Sharing tips and tricks will always be a surefire way of helping people on their journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

cotopaxi-1

Make Your “Me Time” Belong To You

Knock Out The Noise! Photo by Leslie Hassler

Knock Out The Noise!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

This short and sweet Motivation Monday post is all about you. Specifically, it’s a reminder that’s exactly what the time you make to exercise should be –  time for you and nothing else.

I can’t tell you how many times I’m surrounded by people on elliptical machines or even at the weight rack who focus on their texts or emails when they should be concentrating on their form, their breathing and the oh-so-wonderful benefit of clearing the mind. Snap your Instagram photo and move on to your exercise routine, people! Honestly, if you’re not a doctor or emergency worker on call or a mom with a sick kid at home, how many of us really need to respond to that new email right away? Will the world stop spinning if you update a client on a project 30 minutes after you receive the message instead of ten?

In a world where we search workouts that give us the biggest benefits in the shortest amount of time, we absolutely owe it to ourselves to make those precious minutes count. So here’s my challenge for you this week: whether you decide to take a 20-minute walk in the morning, squeeze in a 30-minute workout on your lunch break or commit to a total hour of a group exercise class after work, tell your colleagues, family and friends you’re simply not available during that window of time. Before you snicker and say, “Laura, that’s impossible,” think about this: if taking 10 minutes out of your day to bang out some burpees or take a brisk walk is going to make you calmer and think more clearly when challenged by deadlines; difficult clients or your kid’s core math homework, then you owe it to yourself to be strong and tell people when you need a few minutes of me-time.

Sometimes the hardest part of taking care of ourselves is telling even the people who love us the most what we need to be a healthier and happier person. Why not use this week – when we welcome a brand new season – to take a chance and see what happens. If the world doesn’t stop spinning because you waited 20 minutes to respond to a few texts, then I’d say you’ve taken a bold step forward in your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

9/11: 15 Years Later

img_2647I hope you’ll forgive this diversion from my weekly dose of Monday Motivation. It’s hard for me to write about healthy snacks or fitting fitness into your back-to-school schedule when my mind has been flooded with memories of the day that changed our world forever. At some point this past week, I simply lost count of how many times I uttered or heard the phrase “I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since 9/11.”

Time may march on, but each year the memories are just as vivid as they were on that bright, beautiful day in 2001. I remember the shock, the silence and then the chaos that erupted in the News 12 Connecticut newsroom where I worked as a reporter at the time. I remember the nonstop news coverage and the countless live shots from the Fairfield train station. That’s where a triage team waited to treat injured survivors – only to look more and more despondent with each passing hour that none arrived. It’s also where I interviewed people with dust on their clothes, still in shock from what they had escaped in lower Manhattan. I remember calling my parents to tell them how much I loved them. And I remember the phone calls I received from panicked friends who wondered if I had any information about people working in the World Trade Center.

In the days that followed, I met too many people who lost people they loved. I learned Glen Pettit, one of my News 12 Long Island colleagues and a NYPD officer, was killed. I held back tears while interviewing people who held on to the hope a son, daughter, husband or wife would return home. I held back tears while speaking with members of the Stamford fire department who wanted to do more to help their brothers in the city. In the fleeting moments when I was alone, I let the tears flow freely. Yet in the midst of the sadness, fear, anger and confusion, I also remember people treating each other with kindness and banding together in a way I’d never seen before. Quite frankly, I haven’t seen it since.

Yankee Stadium: 15 Years Later

Yankee Stadium: 15 Years Later

Fifteen years later, I found solace going to Mass before taking the subway to Yankee Stadium. I originally felt somewhat guilty accepting the tickets my Dad offered for this game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. However, I came to realize doing something I loved on a sunny Sunday afternoon was a testament to the fact that our American way of life survived that terrible day. It turns out, the Devil Rays were the team the Yankees played two weeks after 9/11 as the nation tried to return to some semblance of normalcy, which included resuming the season for America’s pastime.

Before the start of yesterday’s game, with tears in my eyes and pride swelling in my chest, I witnessed a moving ceremony featuring the booming sounds of the NYPD Emerald Society’s Pipe and Drum Corps. I watched Yankees manager Joe Girardi shake the hands of wounded veterans from Walter Reed Hospital who were honored in front of home plate. I listened to the powerful voice of firefighter Frank Pizzaro as he belted out our national anthem while New York City’s bravest unfolded an American flag in center field beside the Port Authority Police Department’s Color Guard. I cried, I applauded and then as I cheered for the Yankees through what turned out to be a loss, I thought: the human spirit is a truly amazing thing. And it is in times of sorrow and struggle that banding together makes us stronger than standing alone. So in the company of that packed stadium, I found another way to honor the promise made 15 years ago…we will never forget.

God Bless America.

 

Get Ready to FALL into Fitness!

Here Comes the Fall!

Here Comes the Fall!

Is it me, or does the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day fly by faster with each passing year? I know the calendar says we still have 16 days until the official start of autumn, but for me, summer ends with Labor Day. Sigh. I hope everyone enjoyed the end of the season and that the new month is off to a strong start.

One thing I love about September is the fact that all the back-to-school buzz makes this the perfect time to re-focus your attention on getting your health and fitness routine in tip-top shape. Maybe you’re thinking: “Laura, are you kidding? I’m too busy trying to get the kids back on a regular schedule, I have no time to even think about working out!” Well, why not turn that challenge into an opportunity? As you help the family re-adjust to the non-summer-Friday work weeks and new start times for school and after-school activities, it’s also the time to fit some fitness into your own routine. Who deserves to carve out some time get that daily dose of much-needed endorphins? The answer is simple – YOU!

Here are some tips to set the pace for a FITASTIC fall ahead:

  • Seek Out New Schedules & Offers:  Group fitness schedules often change in September. Maybe this is the season that total body conditioning class finally fits into your schedule. Be sure to ask about any back-to-school specials, including friends and family rates. This is a great time to make exercise a family affair or schedule bi-weekly workouts with a buddy!
  • Fall Into Healthy Eating Habits: Packing lunch for the kiddies? Add just a few more minutes to the prep time and create some healthy snacks or small meals for yourself. I spend approximately 30 minutes every Sunday slicing and dicing veggies including peppers, celery sticks and carrots and then pack them in reusable containers. I can grab a portion anytime as a healthy snack or side dish or I can mix the veggies with brown rice for a mini-meal. Some of my other favorite go-to eats include raw almonds, green apples and hard boiled eggs.
  • Put It In Writing: If you drive your kids to school or your spouse to the train station, figure out if there’s time immediately following a drop-off or right before a pick-up for a workout. You could hit the gym for a group exercise class, drive a few more blocks to the park for a run or meet a friend for a brisk walk. Typing the activity in to your smart phone task list or putting an old-fashioned sticky note on the fridge is a great visual boost to keep that workout on the schedule.
  • Ten Minutes of Something is Better than Nothing!  As time seems to grow more precious each day, there are plenty of workouts geared toward gaining maximum results in less time.Click here for a refresher on my “Tear-It-Up-in-Ten Circuit”  Do you really only have five minutes to spare? No problem. Click here for a reminder on how you can burn some calories and get the heart pumping with the four-minute Tabata workout.
  • Wardrobe Prep Do you help your kids pick out their clothes before they go to bed? Then go ahead and put out your own morning workout gear, too! Put your clothes in the bathroom the night before. It’s usually the first room we visit after we wake up, so if your clothes are staring you in the face, it may be harder to ditch the workout. If you’re exercising after work, pack your gym bag the night before and leave it by the door to grab on your way out. (And don’t forget to grab one of your prepped snacks for some healthy fuel, too!)

Finally, it’s important to remember getting fitness on your schedule and healthy foods into your fridge are two big steps toward a healthier you in the season ahead. During my annual August blogging hiatus, I had many conversations with several different gal pals (who also happen to be great moms) about their frustration over falling off the fitness wagon over the summer. Between keeping the kids entertained and all the BBQs, they found themselves eager to get back into a leaner, meaner routine. I’ll tell you what I told them: leave the “sins of the summer” in the past, but keep the memories close in your heart. Just as the leaves are sure to fall in the days ahead, you’ll soon find yourself back on track with your efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Happy Labor Day 2016!

Soak Up What's Left of Summer!

Soak Up What’s Left of Summer!

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you all had a FITASTIC August and are enjoying the last holiday weekend of the summer of 2016. Since this Motivation Monday falls on a holiday, LauraLovesFitness will be back in full force tomorrow for the first Tear-It-Up Tuesday of September with some tips to help make this your best fall ever.

For now, I wish you all a relaxing holiday and look forward to having you back for the season ahead. Whatever you’re doing today, be sure to stay safe so that tomorrow, you can continue the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Asking for a Little Help from my Friends

I Need Your Help to Make this My BIGGEST Avon 39 Walk Yet!

I Need Your Help to Make this My BIGGEST Avon 39 Walk Yet!

We made it to the first Motivation Monday of August! Not only am I excited to savor what’s left of the summer season, but as many of you repeat readers know, this is also the month I take a break from writing and recharge my batteries by the beach as much as possible.

Before I go on hiatus, I hope you won’t mind this call for help. In 75 days from now, I hope to be joining my high school friend Sue in our third Avon Walk to end breast cancer here in New York City! As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor and friend to other amazing women who are waging their own battle against the disease, walking 39.3 miles seems the least I can do to join in the fight. The catch: I can’t do it without your help. I have to raise a minimum of $1,800 to get to the starting line on October 15th, but I hope to raise much more than that and make this my biggest and best fundraising effort yet! (To that end, for those of you who follow my other social media channels, get ready to see some fundraising posts on those, too.)

Net funds raised will go to organizations right here in the New York area that help with everything from preventative screenings to holistic therapies to help patients manage the many effects of this terrible disease. Some of these groups include:

You can make a donation by simply clicking here and be taken to my personal page on the Avon39 website.  Despite all the advances in research, the sad reality is 40-thousand will die from breast cancer in the United States this year. So let’s do this! While I look forward to another weekend of making memories to last a lifetime, my dream is that one day we won’t have a need for the Walk.

I close with a big thank you in advance for your support and a wish for a wonderful month ahead filled with good times with family and friends. Just remember to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and listen to your body when it needs a break. Now get out there and soak up some sunshine and get on with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous! See you in September!

 Starting Over…Sort Of

Felt SO Good to Get Back in the Gym Over the Weekend!

Felt SO Good to Get Back in the Gym Over the Weekend!

Whoever coined the phrase the lazy days of summer obviously never dealt with a move in the July heat. Now that my parents are slowly settling in their new home, I am thankful this Motivation Monday signals the start of my own return to normalcy.

Probably the most important part of re-establishing my routine involves getting exercise back on my schedule. Saturday marked the first time I stepped inside a gym in three weeks. That is simply excruciatingly too long for this fitness fanatic. However, between my production gigs; the hours of packing; scheduling and re-scheduling contractors and moving dates and the nasty summer cold that stole my energy and my voice, something had to give. However, I always reminded myself that the stress was temporary and eventually things would get better. As I sit on a Manhattan-bound train for the first time in weeks, I realize they already are.

We’re all tired and covered in scrapes and bruises thanks to some unexpected run-ins with furniture and box cutters. Yet we’re all healthy and looking forward to our annual escape to the beautiful Montauk beach.

I also look forward to getting back to my Physique57 workouts; enjoying small, healthy meals throughout the day and catching up with with friends I haven’t seen in forever. I also know I have to be patient with my body. While I’m probably in the best shape of my life at 42, I also know I need to give my body time to adjust to a vigorous exercise routine again. I will pay extra attention to stretching and staying hydrated. And I will constantly remind myself that I will start feeling like my strong self again soon.

Consider this my roundabout way of saying there are plenty of things in this life that will throw us off course. However, reminding yourself that the road will eventually lead to a familiar path is half the battle in getting there. If your summer to date has included more tacos than Tabatas or too many margaritas killed your motivation to make it to those early morning boot camp classes, don’t sweat it. Today is a new day and there’s still plenty of summer left to work on those plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Summer Emergency 411

medinsigniaThis is a first-of-its kind Motivation Monday for me. It isn’t a series of killer workouts or late-nights out that have me extra wiped at the start of this new week. What makes this day so different is it’s the first Monday in 37 years that my parents have a new address. Helping Mom and Dad move out of my childhood home was probably the most physically and emotionally draining experience I can remember. Now the move is over, but the unpacking begins.

So, after a grueling week featuring some ridiculously hot days, I hope you’ll forgive this reboot of a post offering some timely reminders about how to recognize heat-related illnesses:

Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs or abdominal region, that could be a signal that a more serious emergency is imminent.

What to do: If you experience heat cramps, stop exercising immediately. Find some shade or move indoors where it’s cool and drink water.

Heat exhaustion: This is more severe than heat cramps, and can occur when you’ve been exercising strenuously for a long period of time in extreme heat or humidity. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Moist, pale, or cool skin
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Nausea
  • Weak pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen all tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels, but not to the point of shivering. Also, be sure to get some cool water into your system.

Heat stroke: This is the most severe heat emergency and usually happens when signs of heat exhaustion go unchecked.  In this situation, dangerously high internal temperatures will cause your body’s vital systems to fail.  Signs and symptoms include:

  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Little or no perspiration
  • Weakness
  • Rapid pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels. If you can find them, you can also put ice packs under the armpits and groin area.

Now that we’ve identified the emergencies, here are a few reminders on how to keep them from happening in the first place:

  • Try to exercise outdoors before 9 am and after 6 pm.
  • Stay hydrated! Basic guidelines call for you to drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise, but you can drink an additional eight to 16 oz  if you’re exercising in warmer weather. Personally, I simply have water with me at all times and take a sip or two whenever I rest between sets or just stop for a breather.
  • If you have cardiovascular or circulatory problems and are taking medication, always check with your doctor before adding any outdoor activity to your routine.

I leave you with two important tips:

  • Always call 911 in an emergency.
  • Listen to your body. It knows when something’s wrong.

Don’t let this post prevent you from soaking up the summer season by working out and hanging out in the great outdoors. Just remember to keep the water bottle full and use a little extra care move ahead with your summer plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

LauraLovesFitness Turns Five!

iStock_000016093894SmallMy friends who are parents tell me time goes by faster and faster as their kids get older. As this Motivation Monday marks the start of the week my “baby” blog turns five-years-old, I can totally relate!

It’s impossible to highlight all the changes we’ve witnessed as a country since my very first blog post on July 13, 2011. We’re marching toward what many consider to be the most important presidential election in our nation’s history. Everything from the climate, the state of Wall Street and celebrity relationships change on what seems like a daily basis.

Closer to home, I’ve been through plenty of changes in the past year alone. New opportunities emerged in the world of production and on-camera spokesperson work. I added Fitness Nutrition Specialist to the fitness industry certificates hanging on my wall. I powered through my second Avon 39 Walk for Breast Cancer and can’t wait to lace up for a third adventure in October. Of course, there have also been some major upheavals. Just last week, I said good-bye to a high school friend taken from this world far too soon in a tragic accident. Later this week, my parents will move out of my childhood home and start a new beginning at a new address.

As each year passes, I realize just how quickly things can turn from happy and exciting to scary and sad. 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 completely out of whack.

Then there’s 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 2015:

Avon39 NYC 2015

Sticking with those Healthy Resolutions

Birthday Reflections

A Little Support Goes A Long Way!

I close this blog birthday post like all the previous ones: with a heartfelt thank you to all my readers who inspire to keep on keepin’ on! Whether you’ve been following my blog since the first post or started just recently; taken the time to retweet something I’ve written; liked, shared or commented on my Facebook or Instagram posts – each act of support goes a long way! If there’s anything you want to read more or less about here, I’d love to hear your suggestions for ways to take LauraLovesFitness through another year.

So, 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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