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!

 

Small Changes That Add Up

photo-29And just like that, here we are kicking off the last week of January! How are those healthy resolutions holding up? If you’re starting to think about throwing in the towel, I hope this Motivation Monday post helps you get back on track.

The key is to think big but keep those day-to-day changes small. If you’re trying to shed a few pounds, remember, you want to aim to lose a healthy rate of 1-2 pounds per week. To reach that goal, try to cut 100 calories from each meal. Does that mean giving up your favorite foods? No way! Here are some ideas for small adjustments to your eating routine:

  • Eliminate that slice of cheese from your sandwich. If you do have cheese, swap out the Swiss for mozzarella. (You’ll save nearly 105 calories!)
  • Skip the fries and have a baked potato. Better yet, have a baked sweet potato for a healthy dose of vitamins A, vitamin C and B6 along with potassium, dietary fiber and niacin. (And swap out the 320-calorie cup of light sour cream for the same serving of 130-calorie nonfat plain Greek yogurt.)
  • Eat skinless chicken breast.
  • Love sweets like me? Consider these ideas: Try 1.5 oz. of fresh grapes instead of 1.5 oz. of raisins. Instead of strawberry ice cream, have 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream instead.  When you want the real thing, skip the cone and have your scoop in a cup.
  • Skip the sugary drinks and stick with water. Remember even 20-calorie drinks can add up if you have several in a day.
  • Watch the sugary coffee drinks.
  • Watch the booze intake. My repeat readers will know the every-other-drink rule is how I keep the cocktail calories in check. Have a drink, then follow up with water or seltzer before throwing back another libation. By the time you’re ready for it, you may be not want it anymore!

Now stop, smile and pat yourself on the back for all the positive changes you’ve started to  incorporate into your lifestyle. Day by day, you’re trekking along the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Blame it on Jonas…

Snow picHello LauraLovesFitness readers!

This is a quick message to let you all know that due to a scheduling error, you received a link to an incomplete post this morning. I apologize for the error. You loyal readers will know I would never intentionally post anything that’s not ready for “print,” so I hope if you haven’t read the botched post yet, please go ahead and delete it before you even bother opening it.

For all of you who weathered the first snow storm of 2016 with me, I hope you’re safe and sound. Stay tuned for your normal Motivation Monday post tomorrow. Thank you and have a happy and healthy Sunday!

Sticking With Those Healthy Resolutions!

iStock_000018191976XSmallThree weeks into the New Year and here we are celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you’re lucky enough to be enjoying a long weekend, be sure to make every second count!

On this Motivation Monday, I want to offer a boost to anyone struggling to stick with those healthy resolutions. Remember, it takes at least six weeks for a habit – good or bad – to become routine. So be patient with yourself and keep taking things one day at a time. I hope the video below also offers some ideas to make this your healthiest year yet! Thanks to KIND Snacks, Oscillococcinum and S+ by ResMed for the opportunity to represent their brands and to the team at Vidicom for a great production day.

Here’s to another great week ahead filled with lots of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Big Goals & Baby Steps

VictoryWay to go – you made it to the second Motivation Monday of 2016! So, how was your first week of the New Year?

I received many inspiring messages during the week from friends around the country telling me about their health and fitness goals for 2016. Not surprisingly, the majority of those goals had to do with losing weight.

Some had a specific target in mind for shedding those pounds. Karen, for example, wants to be 25 pounds lighter by June in time for her first cruise. With healthy weight loss clocking in at around two pounds per week, she’s set a realistic goal for a six-month period. And that’s the key – keeping it real.

So I thought this would be the perfect time to offer some tips on how to keep reality in check and not feel overwhelmed by your goals.

  1. Drop and give me a plank! You’re sticking to that resolution to add 10 minutes of extra time to your daily walk. Good for you! Now drop and give me some planks to attack your core strength. Click here for a refresher video on how to add planks and other full-body exercises to your routine in just four minutes thanks to Tabata training.
  2. Start your day with the right fuel. I believe in the power of a healthy breakfast. Aim for a “clean” meal of scrambled eggs with a slice of toasted Ezekiel or other sprouted bread. On the run? Grab a hard-boiled egg or non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Extra Tip: adding fresh fruit to your yogurt is a lower-sugar option to the flavored varieties. These protein-packed options will keep you full longer than starchy, sugary items like frozen waffles or pancakes.
  3. Never leave home without healthy snacks. There’s nothing worse than going grocery shopping with a rumbling stomach or being greeted at the shopping mall with the scent of cinnamon invading your nostrils from  from the food court. What will you find in my bag? I love KIND snacks, especially the bars. They contain no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols and provide a balanced combination of healthy fats, protein and complex carbs. The bonus? They’re yummy!
  4. Out of sight, out of mind. Yes, I’m all about moderation. But I also have a hard time not going overboard when certain temptations are lurking in my kitchen cabinets. That’s why I don’t keep things like cookies or candy in the house. I freely admit I’m incapable of eating just one cookie or one piece of chocolate. I envy those who can. If you’re like me, then seriously, just don’t buy it. For the parents out there, it’s never too early to get your kids started on healthy habits. Push the apple slices and peanut butter snacks on a normal basis and save the treats for special occasions.
  5. Steer clear of quick fixes. Any diet plan that’s too restrictive is bound to backfire. I would never tell someone not to enjoy their favorite indulgence every now and then. The key is training yourself to monitor portions and make whole food choices. If you don’t, once the juice cleanse or shake-diet is over and done with and you reintroduce real food into your life, you risk going right back to consuming too many calories and the weight can creep right back.

Remember, this is NOT a sprint. Healthy choices take time to develop into habits, and those habits will continue to become a part of lifelong marathon. Celebrate each and every healthy choice you make and active step that you take as part of your effort to stay the course on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Make 2016 Your Most FITASTIC Year Yet!

imageWe made it to the very first Motivation Monday of 2016! It’s a first of many kinds for me as I’ve never sent Happy New Year wishes from the Caribbean before today. Knowing how eager people are to kick their health and fitness resolutions into high gear, I didn’t want to let another day go by without sharing some tips to help your goals take shape.

When I get home, I’ll have to reserve my barre space at Physique57 a little earlier than usual and wait longer for an elliptical or to start a weight set at New York Sports Club. I love seeing so many new faces at the gym at this time of year, but I hate the fact that usually by March, many of those enthusiastic newbies are long gone. So, I kick off 2016 with a these ideas to make those fitness resolutions stick long after Old Man Winter has made room for Spring.

  1. Leave the past where it belongs: I know we all want to erase the “sins” of the holidays that came in the form of chocolate, cheese and cocktails. Don’t  waste your energy regretting the times you overdid it last year. I have my own memories of indulging in that second piece of lasagna and too many chocolates to count. Today is a new day.
  2. Adjust your attitude:  Thinking of exercise as a “chore” is a surefire way to put the brakes on your new routine. Instead, think of exercise as “Me Time.” No matter what’s going on in my life, the time I spend working out is the one time my brain goes into neutral and the only thing filling it is some good music. Use  exercise as a break from the ordinary, and before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to sweating out whatever ails you.
  3. Reality check: Saying you’re going to exercise seven days a week is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for failure. The first day you miss, you’ll be discouraged, and could find yourself saying, “Well, there goes the week!” A more realistic approach would be to aim for a minimum of three days each week for the first month. As you start experiencing the endorphin rush and other benefits from exercising, you’ll want to spend more than three days working out. Discouragement aside, everyone should take a  minimum of one day off  each week to let the body rest.
  4. Do what works for YOU:  You woke up Christmas morning to find Santa left the latest exercise program under your tree. Meanwhile, all your exercise DVDs have been hanging out with the dust bunnies under your bed since VHS went out of style. Why not return the program and put the money toward a new pair of sneakers and moisture-wicking workout wear? Grab a friend and start those power walks or sign up for that Zumba class at your local community center. Have no idea what to try? Splurge and hire a personal trainer to get you started on the right track.
  5. Avoid severe diet restrictions: If you deny yourself something you truly enjoy for too long, it’s only a matter of time before you break down and go overboard. So, the chocolate bar you could have had last week turns into five chocolate bars, washed down with a chocolate shake and a side of cupcakes two months later.

I leave you with this reality: there will be “off” days. Even as a lifelong fitness enthusiast, there are times I simply don’t want to workout and all I want to eat is cheese and chocolate. As you read this post, there’s a good chance I’m having my first high-calorie frozen cocktail of the day. Stuff happens. Just don’t let one bad day throw you off course.  Just wipe away the crumbs, prep your gym bag and remember tomorrow is your next chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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