A Shot of Presidential-Sized Motivation

e American Background. Independence Backdrop.

Guess what? Remember those health and fitness resolutions you made at the start of the year? Well, you’ve reached a major milestone as this Motivation Monday brings us seven weeks into 2017! As I mentioned in previous posts, it takes about six weeks for new behaviors to take root as official habits. So, if packing your gym bag has become as routine as brushing your teeth before going to bed and you find yourself craving your daily dose of celery sticks – kudos to you!

To keep the momentum going, I encourage you to pat yourself on the back for all your hard work. I also offer this important reminder: success is never just about a number on the scale. Think about how many of these non-scale wins you’ve scored:

  • Do you have more energy throughout the day?
  • Are you sleeping better at night?
  • Do you find yourself craving healthy snacks and meals?
  • Do you feel more confident stepping out in that favorite pair of jeans?

Whatever you’ve accomplished, now’s the perfect time to set some new goals. Think about something that will keep you pushing through your weight training circuits; getting to that group exercise class on time and chopping veggies or prepping other healthy food for the work week. Maybe there’s a spring break trip, wedding, reunion or other special occasion in the not-so-distant future that you’d like to show up for feeling your best.  Of course, your motivation could stem from the desire to gear up for a new season of new activities. This could be the spring you start training for your first 5K or Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. Maybe you’d like to be able to play a sport with your son or daughter or simply have more energy for outdoor activities like hiking or cycling when the weather gets nicer.

In honor of President’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to wrap things up with some words of wisdom from some of our country’s notable leaders. As in years past, this is a non-partisan group of quotes. I simply chose words that inspired me. As we all set our sights on the health goals ahead, isn’t it great to think some motivational words from the past can inspire 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 

“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

 

 

“Kicking” off 43 With a Bang – and a Punch!

img_3806On this Motivation Monday, I find myself another year older. Hopefully that means I’m also another year wiser, but it’s probably still too early to tell.

I think it’s safe to say birthdays present the perfect opportunity for reflection. While I reminisced about the many experiences that will forever define my forty-second year on Earth, it was no surprise the most defining moments were those that involved family and friends. Many of those moments were happy ones. Others were the complete opposite. The reality is I begin living my forty-third year missing a few very special people. However, while they’ve been taken from this world physically, the memories of their love and friendship will remain a source for smiles and strength for all the years to come.

I was truly blessed to celebrate another birthday with both my parents. Their love and guidance have made me the woman I am today. I’m equally blessed to say I’ve never felt healthier or stronger – both physically and mentally – than I do right now. That strength was tested many times in the past year as I found myself along with several of my closest friends dealing with some very “grown-up” challenges: Family members suffering from attacks on their physical and mental well-being; sweet children growing up to become troublesome teens; job security growing less secure and relationships breaking up.

In a world filled with so much uncertainty, one thing I can control year after year is how I take care of my body. Exercising and eating healthy continue to help keep my immune system strong even when events and emotions seem overwhelming. Of course, the other “thing” that continues to work for me is embracing the everything-in-moderation mentality. That’s why I refused to feel zero guilt about my birthday snack featuring a chocolate – peanut butter cupcake and a glass of champagne. It felt equally good hitting the healthy reset button the day after my birthday by blending an Isagenix protein shake and hitting the gym.

With ILoveKickboxing Instructor, EJ

With ILoveKickboxing Instructor, EJ

Speaking of the gym, another thing I learn year after year is you’re definitely never too old to try something new. Some of my longtime readers may remember several years ago I enjoyed sparring with my personal trainer Roberto once or twice a week. A hand injury took me out of that game for awhile, but thanks to the recommendation of my gal pal Elisa, I decided to get back into the punching world and signed up for ILoveKickboxing.com.

After one sweat-filled 50-minute class last week, I was riding a crazy endorphin-filled high. I also laughed to myself thinking about how I could have crushed some serious stress if only I had I had started punching and kicking a heavy bag sooner! The class is a cardio, strength and endurance experience featuring boxing gloves, heavy bags and non-stop drills of core exercises ranging from mountain climbers to push-ups as well as solo and partner-friendly rounds of jabs, hooks, upper cuts and kicks. I am excited to add this new workout to my exercise regimen for the year ahead (which still includes Physique57 classes and Tabata training) and see how it helps take my physical and mental strength to another level.

So, I guess this is a roundabout way of saying taking control of your health is something anyone can do at any age or fitness level. Don’t be afraid to strike out and try something new. There’s no doubt the road ahead can trip us up at any time with bumps, twists and turns. Instead of looking back, use the lessons of the past to catapult you into the future and all the opportunities calling you to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Happy Heart Month!

cpr-picAre you a little slow-moving on this particular Motivation Monday thanks to all the food and fun (and drinks!) from your Super Bowl Sunday festivities? Don’t sweat it. You’re not alone! While I’m keeping today’s post short and sweet, I did want to take advantage of the beginning of American Heart Month to encourage everyone to consider learning or brushing up on a life-saving technique: cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Six years after my first  CPR / AED (automated external defibrillator) course with the American Red Cross, I remain thankful I had to learn these skills in order to receive my certifications with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). I’m also thankful the course isn’t a one-and-done deal. In order to keep my fitness certifications current, I have to re-take the CPR/AED training every two years. So last Thursday, I got re-certified with help from Aquatic Solutions, an American Red Cross provider that’s been providing courses in CPR/AED along with training for aquatic and camp professionals and basic lifeguarding since 2002. In just a few hours, I got a great refresher on how to help someone in an emergency situation until medical professionals arrive on the scene. While I haven’t had to perform chest compressions, rescue breaths or use an AED on anyone yet, it feels good to be prepared.

Here are two eye-opening facts I learned from the American Red Cross course materials:

  1. Four out of five cardiac arrests in the United States happen outside the hospital.
  2. For every minute CPR is delayed, a person’s chance of survival decreases by 10 percent.

Whether you’re a parent, babysitter, office worker, teacher, waiter, coffee barista…whatever fills your day-to-day routine, the truth is you never know when an emergency may happen. So, even if you don’t work in the fitness industry, wouldn’t it be wonderful to gain some life-saving knowledge to help a loved one or be that Good Samaritan who makes a difference in the life of a stranger? For more information and to find a class near you, click on this link.

Remember, getting certified in CPR has nothing to do with your fitness level or your age. You just need a few hours and a desire to learn how to help out in an emergency. That knowledge could make a significant difference in another person’s life and his or her quest to continue the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Keep On Keepin’ On…..

iStock_000018191976XSmallIt happened again. I blinked and here we are on the last Motivation Monday of January! Four weeks into 2017, I offer big kudos to everyone sticking with those plans to make this your healthiest year yet.

If you feel like your motivation is starting to wane, here’s a boost to keep you going. In only a couple of weeks, some of the new things you started will feel like part of your daily routine. If you’re discouraged about the number on the scale, forget the numbers and think about how many of these non-scale-related wins you’ve experienced so far this year:

  • Do you have more energy?
  • Do your clothes fit better?
  • Do you see a new glow in your skin?

Remember, healthy living isn’t a sprint. It’s a lifelong marathon and there will be days when even the most disciplined among us stray off course. It’s part of being human. To help you stay on track, I offer three tips to keep in mind for the days, weeks and months ahead:

  1. Start your day with the right fuel. I believe in the power of a healthy breakfast, but I’m also highly aware of how little time many of us have to even think about scrambling some eggs or waiting around for Ezekiel bread to toast. That’s why I love starting my days with a chocolate Isagenix shake. It takes the guess-work out of determining what will give me the nutrients I need, and I can either make it in the blender or use my portable shaker. Not a shake person? Grab a hard-boiled egg or non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Bonus Tip: adding fresh fruit to your yogurt is a lower-sugar option to the flavored varieties. All of these protein-packed options will keep you full longer than starchy, sugary items like frozen waffles or pancakes.
  2. 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 tempting your nostrils from the food court. What will you find in my bag? Either a bag of almonds or KIND bar. I love these snacks because they’re yummy and because they contain no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols and provide a balanced combination of healthy fats, protein and complex carbs.
  3. Out of sight, out of mind. Sure, 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 snacking. Push the apple slices and peanut butter snacks on a normal basis and save the treats for special occasions.

Here’s to wrapping up the first month of 2017 on a positive note and to welcoming February and all the new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Work That Core!

Photo by: Leslie Hassler

Photo by: Leslie Hassler

Believe it or not, this Motivation Monday brings us three weeks into 2017. Know what that means? We’ve also reached the halfway point for those New Year’s healthy resolutions to start feeling like second nature. So whatever you do, don’t give up now!

The extra good news is there’s still time to tweak your routine to make this your strongest year yet. I couldn’t let this building phase of January pass without an important reminder about one area of training all of us need to incorporate into our routines regardless of where we are in our fitness journey. Whether your passion is power walking; running; cycling; dancing; swimming; weight training or boot camping, there is one area of the body no one should ignore: the core. My repeat readers already know I’m probably one of core training’s biggest cheerleaders. Why? It’s simple: without a strong core, the rest of your body can suffer. Seriously.

The core is much more than just those “six-pack abs.” It’s actually the part of the body made up of the:

  • Lumbo-pelvic-hip-complex
  • Thoracic spine and
  • Cervical spine.

The core is where all movement begins and where we find our center of gravity. The muscles in the core are broken into two categories: the stabilization system and the movement system. If the stabilization system doesn’t work properly, then your body will make compensations to move, and those compensations can ultimately lead to injury. For example: you could have strong “abs” (rectus abdominus), external obliques and erector spinae, but weak stabilizing muscles in your lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. Without proper stabilization, extra stress is placed on your vertebrae when you move, and this can lead to low back pain and possible injury.

So, today I implore everyone to add my all-time favorite core exercise to your routine: the plank. The following photos taken by Lauren Bachner at New York City’s Hype Gym show the start and finish positions for a plank. (I also added a leg lift option for an advanced option.) Aim for two sets of 12-20 reps. Training tips: In either version, be sure to draw in your navel and squeeze your glutes before you raise your body off the floor to form a straight line from head to toe. Hold for two to three seconds before dropping to the ground to re-start. 

Another bonus when it comes to planks: they are a great exercise for Tabata training. Click here for a refresher on how Tabatas can take add some spice to your fitness routine.

So now I want to know what is YOUR favorite core move? As we continue to make our way through 2017, I look forward to learning what my readers of all ages and skill levels are doing to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Simple Action Plan & Words of Motivation from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Knocking Those New Year's Resolutions Right Out of the Park!

Keep Knocking Those New Year’s Resolutions Right Out of the Park!

This MLK holiday brings us just beyond the we’re two-weeks-into-2017 mark. So how are those health and fitness goals taking shape?

If you haven’t thrown in the towel on your plans to move more and make healthier choices in your diet – kudos to you! I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again: it takes at least six weeks to embrace new habits. (Just think -you’re about one-third of the way there!) I know it’s not easy being patient in our world that thrives on instant gratification.

So for this week’s Motivation Monday, I offer a super simple action plan: add just one healthy action to your to-do list for each day of the week ahead. For example:

Tuesday: Fill one shelf or bin in the fridge with reusable containers or baggies filled with chopped veggies and other grab-and-go snacks. Each day, you can take one to work or school and you’ll always have a healthy option waiting for you if you need a snack at home.

Wednesday: Take the stairs to the office instead of the elevator.

Wednesday: Wake up 15 minutes earlier to bang out two Tabatas and stretch.

Thursday: Instead of heading to happy hour, grab a friend or two and try a group exercise class.

Friday: DVR your favorite program and spend those 30 to 60 minutes enjoying some quality time with family or friends.

Saturday/Sunday: Enjoy some time with Old Man Winter with a brisk walk or if you’re lucky enough to get some snow, you can always burn some calories with an enthusiastic snowball fight!

I wrap this holiday post with the words of a very inspirational leader who we stop to remember especially today. Whether it’s tackling the next level of your health and fitness goals or dealing with the struggles of every day life, we can all take a cue from the remarkable Martin Luther King, Jr. to help us on our  journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

 

Nine Days In…

Excited to jump into 2017 with a positive attitude!

Excited to jump into 2017 with a positive attitude!

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe it’s already the ninth day of 2017. So many firsts lie ahead. For me, this marks the first Motivation Monday post of 2017. I’ve also embarked on my first business trip and tomorrow, I’ll produce my first satellite media tour of the New Year. It seems unfathomable that at this very moment last week, I was soaking up the sun in Antigua and not giving much thought to anything other than which frozen drink I planned to order next.

One slight unpleasantry occurred two days into my vacation: I hurt my knee when I fell off a paddle board and hit the board instead of the turquoise water on my way down. So all the workouts I planned in between the sun and fun (and high-calorie cocktails!) were not meant to be. However, I was able to create some interesting hop-on-one-leg dance moves for the New Year’s Eve festivities! After getting slightly miffed about the unplanned rest days, I decided to chalk it up to a sign that my body needed a break. Taking it one step further, I also realized I just needed a break from everything – even writing, something that usually brings me joy. So, I let go and accepted the fact that the world would keep spinning if I didn’t post a new blog on January 2nd. Now that I’m back dealing with the cold, snowy reality of a New York winter, I’m hoping to keep that mindset in check in the days and months ahead. Sometimes you need to pause and take a pass on the things that normally fill our forever-hectic days.

While I didn’t fret about future commitments while I was on vacation, I did have time to think. I thought about the big happenings of 2016: the high school friends taken from this world far too soon; my dad’s surgery; my parents’ move. But as I thought about those life-changing events, I also realized I managed to deal with all of them. No doubt my focus on fitness and healthy eating helped keep my body strong through the tough times, but it was also my faith and the love of friends and family that made it all a little easier. While I’m definitely hoping for a less turbulent 2017, the truth is I have no idea what will happen in the days, weeks and months ahead. As a detail-oriented planner, that’s been a tough reality to accept, but it’s also a reality I’m coming to terms with as each year passes by. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s the simple fact that the people you care about will always be more important than deadlines and conference calls. Maybe it’s the knowledge that each person we encounter on this crazy ride called life struggles with his or her own demons and burdens. All of this thinking lead to my ultimate resolution: to make 2017 the year of living in the present.

As we all begin new journeys and tackle new goals, I offer a simple reminder not to sweat the small stuff that comes along. And it will come. If you’ve made a commitment to be healthier this year, remember it takes at least six weeks for any habit – good or bad – to become part of a daily routine. Click here if you’d like a refresher on some other ways to keep your resolutions on track.

I leave you with this: if you’ve skipped a workout more than once since January 1st, don’t throw in the towel. Everyone needs rest, and sometimes your body and mind need a nap or an overdue chat with a loved one more than a kick-butt workout. The same goes for your diet: if you’ve had a few extra sweets or other treats as you try to get rid of the holiday leftovers, brush off the crumbs and move on. Remember, each day we’re lucky enough to open our eyes is a new chance to start over on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

A Festive End to 2016: The 12 Days of Fitness

Christmas treeI truly can’t believe this is the last Motivation Monday before Christmas. Keeping up with tradition, this will not only be my last post of the year, but it’s also a chance for me to offer my fitness-inspired twist on a holiday classic.  Today I give you…

The 12 Days of Fitness

On the first day of fitness, my workout gave to me…a super-surge of endorphins.

On the second day of fitness, my workout gave to me…two tighter thighs and a super-surge of endorphins.

On the third day of fitness, my workout gave to me…three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super-surge of endorphins.

On the fourth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the fifth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the sixth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the seventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the eighth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….eight pulse and squeezes, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the ninth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…nine neuromuscular benefits, eight pulse and squeezes, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the tenth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight pulse and squeezes, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the eleventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…eleven eccentric muscle actions, ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight pulse and squeezes, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the twelfth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…twelve reps of lunges, eleven eccentric muscle actions, ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight pulse and squeezes, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

Whatever you and your family are celebrating as another year winds down, I wish you a very happy and healthy holiday ahead. I close with a heartfelt thank you for all the support throughout a tumultuous year. Here’s to the New Year ahead filled with so many new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous. See you next year!

Healthy Holiday Tips for the Mind

iStock_000014747161SmallIt’s hard to believe this Motivation Monday brings us less than two weeks away from Christmas and Hanukkah. As crunch time dwindles away, the items on our to-do list only seem to grow every day. Along with the daily work grind and family responsibilities, many of us wish there were more hours in the day to get all the other holiday “stuff” done: deciding who’s been naughty and nice; decorating; extra cooking; party planning; attending holiday parties and concerts; card writing; and spending extra time with extended family. Add online shopping and searching for recipes to the everyday stimuli of emails, texts, and status updates…and it’s no wonder our hustled-and-bustled minds are in overdrive.

So while I implore you to fit that quick-hit workout into your daily routine, it’s equally important to steal another few precious moments to re-boot. Here a few tips to make it happen:

  • Focus on one thing at a time: If you set aside an hour to write holiday cards or wrap gifts, make sure that’s all you do during those 60 minutes. No texts. No emails. No multiple posts on Instagram. Worried about withdrawal? Use social media to alert your network you’ll be offline and in elf mode for a bit.
  • Step away from the computer: I understand the need to check email once before bedtime to make sure you didn’t miss any late-day developments on the work front. However, try to shut down at least 30 minutes before bedtime to get your brain in mellow mode. The same goes for social media. The Facebook world will continue to spin if you don’t wish it good night.
  • Turn off the TV: Try to establish one night where you set the DVR and turn a show’s normal viewing time into down time with family or friends. Play cards or a board game and forget about the holiday craziness for awhile. It may turn into a night of getting the Christmas chaos under control, but it’ll be time to tackle the holiday to-do list with fewer distractions.
  • Make me-time a must: If you’ve committed to finding 10 minutes (or more) in your schedule to exercise, add a measly five more minutes to stretch. Then add up to five more minutes to your post-workout shower. At this time of year, I always have a lavender-scented body wash or moisturizer in my arsenal to help me decompress in that nighttime shower. (I like Aveeno.) Also, don’t underestimate the power of caffeine-free teas or scented candles. I recently discovered Twinings Nightly Calm® tea and love it.

So as this joyous yet hectic season marches on, if you find yourself wanting to throw your hands up and scream “Bah Humbug,” rest assured you’re not alone. While I applaud any effort to make time to exercise even when you’re jingling all the way, I also want to stress the importance of standing still for a few moments, too. Never underestimate the power of your mind on the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Give the Gift of Health & Fitness

Christmas gift and baubles on defocused lights backgroundSince this Motivation Monday marks 20 days until Christmas and 19 until the start of Hanukkah, I thought it was the perfect time to offer some cool gift ideas for the fitness fanatics in your life. (Whether they’ve been naughty or nice is up to you to decide.)

Since yours truly is trying to keep the hustle and bustle at manageable levels, I hope you won’t mind a list that’s short and sweet:

  1. Bluetooth wireless ear warmers. These wrap around your head without interfering with a ponytail or hat so you can stay in touch and listen to your favorite tunes while breaking a sweat in the chilly outdoors.
  2. Waterproof audio “stuff.” For the swimmers and even the beach lovers in your life, here’s a great way to provide some waterproof motivation for all their underwater activities.
  3. A not-so-typical water bottle. Aside from being BPA-free and easy-to-grip, this 24-ounce water bottle from Thermos also has a rotating meter  to help you track your hydration throughout the day.
  4. Protein-packed, gluten-free baking goods from Flapjacked.com There’s a wide variety of recipes for pancakes, cookies and muffins packed with 20 grams of protein and 200 calories per serving.
  5. For the fitness chicks in your life: I love my Femme Fitale fitness gloves. They help me avoid developing callouses from all those Physique57 barre classes or weight lifting. So many cute colors and patterns to choose from!

Great stocking stuffers:

  1. BFit Labs Electrolyte Sprays. I never leave home without a bottle. Each electrolyte-packed spray of Berry Blast or Very Vanilla contains 0 calories, 0 carbs and 0 food dyes.
  2. Moisture-wicking socks: I am a huge fan of Balega running socks. They’ve help keep my feet blister-free through my first three Avon39 Walks – that’s 108.9 miles and counting!
  3. Dry shampoo for quick touch-ups after a workout.
  4. Combination lock that lets you use words instead of numbers.
  5. Hot packs for hands and feet.

Remember, giving gifts that promote a healthy lifestyle is a great way to show the most important people in your life that you support their journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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