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Avon39 Boston

An Emotional Finish

While this isn’t the first time I’m writing a Motivation Monday post about the Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, it is the first time I’m writing about it from a train.

A Toast to the End of Day One! (Thank You, Eileen!)

On this Sunday night, I’m making my way back to New York City from Boston just hours after completing my fourth Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. It was the first time my friend Sue and I ventured outside our home state for the 39.3-mile journey. As I sit here next to James, my boyfriend and best cheerleader, with lactic acid attacking my muscles, I feel exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.

The mission behind the weekend-long journey remained the same: raising money for the fight against breast cancer in the hopes that one day, it will be just one more disease future generations only read about in history books. However, I never imagined how walking the Walk in a different city would open the door to so many amazing moments.

One of Many Welcoming Neighborhood Gestures

The main reason behind those moments were the people of Boston. As a die-hard Yankees fan, many of my previous encounters with Bostonians have happened thanks to some contentious baseball games and interesting post-seasons. So, it was truly heartwarming to hear the cheers and honking horns of these same people encouraging warriors from 36 states as we walked through the rainy city streets on Saturday morning.

Later that day when the sun came out, and again today when the humidity finally disappeared, the route took us through several lovely surrounding towns including Roxbury, Readville, Canton and Milton. That’s where cheers and high-fives could be found on many street corners and where homeowners offered everything from cold water and candy to a spritz from a garden hose or front- lawn sprinkler. Families set up tables with goodies outside their front doors, and kids of all ages made signs covered with words of encouragement.

This 8-Year Survivor Danced with Walkers At Many Stops

That support – along with help from the Avon39 crew who offered everything from safe passage at busy intersections to peanut butter snacks, blister triage and all the ice cubes you could want – made conquering each mile more manageable. Of course, getting hugs along the route from James, along with my cousin Claire and gal pals Eileen and Connie made the journey even more memorable.

Then there was the finish on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Carson Beach. While I’ve shed several tears crossing the finish line before, this was the most emotional finale yet. I felt a surge of happiness knowing this marks my mom’s ninth year as a survivor, but I was also overwhelmed by sadness thinking of our friend Liz who lost her brave battle with breast cancer last November. The last time we saw Liz was along the route of the New York City Walk less than one month earlier. I cried because I miss her, but also because I knew she was with Sue and me every step of every mile in Boston, just like she’d always been since our first Walk in 2014. Liz’s warrior spirit will continue to motivate me on all my future Avon39 Walks – and all the journeys in this roller coaster called life.

So I close with a thank you to all the warriors out there who inspire me everyday. Those we’ve lost their battle; those who beat it and those who continue to fight the biggest fight of their lives. I also want to thank all the friends and family who joined in the battle against breast cancer. Your generous donations made my first Avon39 Walk in Boston possible and were part of the total 2.9-million dollars raised by all those involved in this event. That money will help fund cancer research; treatment and preventive screenings and help patients cover the costs of everyday needs including childcare during chemotherapy; rides to medical appointments and meals for patients and their families. It’s amazing what we can accomplish together on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Hooray for Spring!

Make it a Knock-Out Spring!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

How perfect is it that we get to kick off a brand new season on a Motivation Monday? 

Even though we officially welcome the spring of 2017 today, I’ve spoken with plenty of people who are unmotivated to move as we shake off the effects of Old Man Winter’s end-of-season punches. Trust me, I get it. It’s a lot easier to sit on the couch than bundle up in layers of cold weather gear, pull on the boots and trudge through the melting snow puddles to get to the gym. The good news is now that spring has arrived, better weather is on the horizon. Sometimes just knowing those brighter and warmer days are coming can be the boost your body needs. 

As we wait things out a little while longer, I encourage you to do this: change just one thing in your routine. Not sure what I mean? Here are five simple ideas: 

  1. Try a new workout: Adding two to three kickboxing sessions to my weekly mix has made a huge impact on my fitness focus. Since I started taking ILoveKickboxing classes in February, no two workouts have been the same. I love the new adrenaline rush and the stress release I experience from punching and kicking the heavy bag. The classes have also made me stronger for my Physique57 classes and other workouts. So what workout have you always wanted to try? Go ahead and give it a shot! The benefits could be nothing but pure sweat and pure fun! 
  2. Make a new playlist: Don’t be shy about asking your instructors about the music he or she plays to keep you going. Now with Spotify, Apple Music and other music sharing options, it’s easier than ever to find the right beats for your body.
  3. Move for a cause: Sign up for a walk or run that supports something that moves you and /or consider supporting family and friends in their own efforts. I am getting so excited to participate in my fourth Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. In less than 100 days, I’ll lace up for the first time in Boston. If you’d like to make a donation, click here. (A HUGE thank you to all who’ve donated so far!) 
  4. Grab some new fitness wear: Sometimes a bright pair of yoga pants or tank is all you need to perk up your routine.
  5. Add a new fruit or veggie to your diet: Toss blueberries or strawberries into that morning smoothie or bowl of oatmeal; add half an avocado to your egg white omelet or pair an apple with almonds, a non-fat plain Greek yogurt or your grab-and-go snack of choice.

Remember, sometimes adding one new thing to the mix is all you need to stay on track with turning your healthy goals into a reality. Happy spring, people! It’s time to get psyched for a new season of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Earning my 39 on the Road!

The Trolls Fab Finish 2016

The Trolls Fab Finish 2016

Somehow we made it to the last Motivation Monday of February. As we prepare to welcome a new month with spring not too far in the distant future, I’m excited to share some news about what’s become an annual labor of love in my life. This marks the fourth time I’m training to  to lace up and join in the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. The big change for 2017: In 117 days from now, I hope to cross the finish line in Boston!

You may remember, I typically join in the two-day, 39.3 mile journey here in New York City. However, one of my Goddaughters will make her Confirmation the same weekend in October and she’s honored me by asking me to be her sponsor. By pounding the pavement in another city, I am able to share such an important day in her spiritual life and keep up my efforts to help kick breast cancer’s butt!

Forever in our Hearts

Forever in our Hearts

Why do I keep walking the Walk? For me, it’s a very personal journey. While 2017 marks my mom’s ninth year as a breast cancer survivor, it also marks the first time I’ll earn my 39 without my high school friend, Liz, cheering for each and every walker from the sidelines. Liz lost her brave battle with breast cancer less than one month after Avon 39 in New York this past fall. She was 43 years old. It’s impossible to believe the photo you see here marked the last time my fellow St. Mary’s Gaels Sue and Molly and I got to hug her. Even though Liz is gone, I also know she’ll be with me every step of the way in Boston and wherever else the Walk – and life – takes me in the future.

Since there are so many other amazing women waging their own battle against this awful disease and because I still dream of a world without breast cancer for my Goddaughters and all the daughters and nieces out there, walking 39.3 miles seems the least I can do to join in the fight. Of course, I can’t do it without your help! I have to raise a minimum of $1,800 to get to the starting line, but I hope to raise much more than that and make 2017 my biggest year yet!  You can make a donation by simply clicking here and you’ll be taken to my personal page on the Avon 39 website. (You even have the option of donating by mail.)

While proceeds help national research programs, some of the Boston area beneficiaries from 2016 include:

  • Boston Medical Center
  • Community Servings
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Silent Spring Institute
  • Tufts Medical Center

Be sure to look out for updates here on my blog and on my social media feeds. If you’re not following me yet, I hope you’ll check out LauraLovesFitness on Facebook and find me @FitnessLaura on Twitter and Instagram.

I close with a big thank you in advance for your support and a wish for a wonderful month ahead filled with new adventures and plenty of chances 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!

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!

Avon39 NYC 2015

IMG_0279Is it possible to feel absolutely exhausted yet completely exhilarated at the same time? Absolutely! All you need is a weekend and a goal to walk 39.3 miles in the fight against breast cancer.

As I sit here on this Sunday evening slathered in sports cream, I feel beyond blessed to have completed my second Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City. I’m thankful I could join my fellow St. Mary’s High School Gael, Sue, for our second journey together and equally elated we could add Christine, Stephanie and Lisa to this year’s pink warrior adventure. While each of us walked for relatives and friends touched by the disease that remains the number one cancer killer of women in the United States, we also teamed up on behalf of an organization aimed at improving the quality of life for those living with breast cancer and their families.

At the You Can Thrive! Cheering Station

At the You Can Thrive! Cheering Station

You Can Thrive! offers free and low-cost support services and long-term prevention and survivorship tools for breast cancer survivors. This includes everything from acupuncture to massage to nutritional education and to peer support. Sue and I learned about the foundation thanks to the group’s volunteers who have helped our fellow Gael pal, Elizabeth, who is still waging her own war against breast cancer. Being greeted by You Can Thrive! volunteers and many survivors with hugs, pom-poms and loud hoorahs at their cheering station one mile from the finish line was in a word, overwhelming.

IMG_0291When our fierce team of five finally crossed the finish, we did so hand-in-hand and tears immediately filled my eyes. I was bombarded by a flood of visions from the two-day trek: the woman wearing a pink cape covered with too many ribbons  showcasing the names of those she’s lost to breast cancer since she her first Avon walk 11 years ago; the volunteer firefighter wearing full gear for the entire Walk; the woman who completed the journey with help from an amazing support group who not only pushed her wheelchair around the city streets, but even carried it up the stairs to the Manhattan Bridge; and the survivors – young and old – proudly wearing sashes and smiles. I thought of my own mom, now a seven-year survivor. I thought of Elizabeth, and how much I want her to join us in this journey next year. Finally, I thought about how wonderful it will be when we don’t have to have to walk ever again.

IMG_0225

With Dale Emmerich, “Cancerfighter”

I end with a huge thank you to everyone who generously supported my journey. Thanks to you, I raised more money than last year, reaching $3860. I also want to thank all of you who sent supportive emails and texts or liked and shared my social media posts documenting everything from my preparation for the journey to the weekend milestones. I couldn’t have done this without an amazing team effort! If you’ve been thinking about being a part of Avon39 or other activities to wage war against a disease that’s hit close to home, 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!

Bring on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Let's Kick Breast Cancer's Butt!

Let’s Kick Breast Cancer’s Butt!

This Motivation Monday arrives just two days away from the kick off of another Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While we’ve made strides in the fight against this awful disease, there’s still so much more to do. Consider these statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Not counting some kinds of skin cancer, breast cancer in the United States is—

  • The most common cancer in women, no matter your race or ethnicity.
  • The most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women.
  • The second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.

We all know someone affected by breast cancer. As you repeat readers know, my mom is a survivor. Today, my St. Mary’s Gael-pal Elizabeth, continues her own battle. So, in 19 days, another St. Mary’s Gael and I will reunite for our second Avon 39 Walk against breast cancer. Sue (my “partner in crime”) even got two of her friends to join us this time. It’s sure to be another epic weekend.

I’m beyond grateful to all of you who’ve supported me so far. Because of your generous spirit, I will start the 39.3 mile journey early on the morning of October 17th. When the going gets tough over the weekend, I’ll do what I did last year. I’ll simply think about how aching muscles and a few blisters are nothing compared to what it’s like to experience cancer.

As you read this post, I’m either in the midst of a corporate video shoot or on my way home. Because of my schedule, I thought about letting this week’s post slide. Then I realized I couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to remind everyone that together we can make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. If you’d like donate to Avon 39, simply click here  to be directed to my personal page. Every dollar helps provide life-saving screenings and  treatment along with support for patients and their families.

One final note: Motivation Monday is also a great time to remember multiple studies have shown exercise is a great defense against all kinds of diseases including cancer. So maybe this is the day you break a sweat for your health and consider giving a few dollars to help others. Together, we can do so much to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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