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Pulling Out All the Stops

Thanks for all the support along my training walks!

We made it to the first Motivation Monday of June! It’s hard to believe we’re quickly marching toward the halfway mark of 2017. What’s even harder for my brain to comprehend is at this time in three weeks, I’ll be recovering from the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer in Boston.

As the days leading up to the weekend-long, 39.3-mile journey wind down, I’m pulling out all the stops and asking more of my wonderful readers to join the fight against this devastating disease. Every two minutes, someone in America is diagnosed with breast cancer. As most of you know, my mom was one of them. So was my dear high school friend, Liz. My mom beat the disease, but sadly, Liz did not. We lost Liz less than one month after the New York City Walk last October. A true warrior to the end, Liz’s spirit will no doubt guide me and my friend Sue as we take to the Boston streets for our fourth Avon 39 experience together.

While the ultimate goal of Avon 39 is to wipe breast cancer from the face of the earth, funds raised will immediately assist the local and national organizations that help women and men – regardless of their ability to pay- get the care they need. These programs provide everything from food and financial help to transportation and childcare assistance for patients going to treatment sessions.

I’m beyond grateful to the family and friends who’ve donated so far. Thanks to your generous spirit, I’m on the verge of breaking the $5,000 mark. For anyone who’s put off donating until later, well, later is now. It takes just a few dollars and a few minutes to make a difference. All you have to do is click here and you’ll be taken to my fundraising page. If you happen to live in the Boston area, I also hope you’ll consider supporting Sue, me and all the other pink warriors from the sidelines. A few cheers and high-fives can really make a difference!

Thank you again for all the support here and on my social media channels. It’s another reminder about the power of teamwork when it comes to our efforts 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!

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

 

 

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!

Loss…and Life

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Our fearless warrior on October 15th

This is anything but your typical motivation Monday post. The truth is I can’t focus on offering healthy food tips or a shot of encouragement to get to the gym when I am coming to grips with a an inexplicable loss.

My friend Liz lost her brave battle with breast cancer yesterday. You may remember her from my posts about the Avon39 Walk.  I was blessed to meet Liz during my days at St. Mary’s High School. Thanks to Facebook, we reconnected long after our 1991 graduation and I felt like we picked up right where we left off. Then a few years ago, the unthinkable happened. Liz was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. It’s a bit of a blur right now, but all of a sudden, other St. Mary’s Gaels banded together to support Liz. Everyone wanted to do something to help. And honestly, I think most of us never believed this day would come. Despite the dire diagnosis, if anyone was going to beat the odds and kick cancer’s ass, it was Liz.

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Go Gaels! Liz meets Molly, Sue & me along the Avon39 route.

Her fight was relentless. She researched the different types of chemotherapy; sought out alternative treatments and was always so careful about what she ate and what she exposed her body to. I remember all the chats and email exchanges we had about the power of yoga, stretching and exercise and how it helped her feel stronger. She eventually traveled to Europe to undergo treatments not available here. She fought, she prayed and she showed all of us how to face adversity with determination and grace.

I had already been touched by breast cancer when my mom was diagnosed in 2008. She beat it. My mom’s battle made me want to do something to join the fight against breast cancer. Then Liz got sick. Then my friend Sue decided to join in Avon39, and I decided to join her. Sue and I have now finished three Walks together, and had other gal pals join in the 39.3 mile journey in 2015 and 2016. Liz was with us in spirit for every step of every mile, and she will continue to be there as we make plans for 2017 and beyond.

October 2014

October 2014

I was lucky to be with my parents when I got the news about Liz. Amidst my tears and sadness, my mom pointed out something extraordinary. Last night’s moon was the biggest since 1948. We won’t see another one like it again until 2034. I have no doubt that brightness was Liz’s light shining down on all of us wanting us to live, laugh and love. It is because of Liz that I was reunited with women I missed for years. Because of her, I was blessed to rekindle friendships I know will stand the test of time.

October 2014

October 2014

My faith gives me comfort that I will see Liz again. For now, I wish her peace and will remain forever grateful for the gift of her friendship. Thank you to all my readers for allowing me this detour from my normal weekly writing path. My only words of encouragement for the week ahead are these: tell those who are most important to you that you love them, and live each day to the fullest.

Highs and Lows

Looking Forward to the Good Times Ahead!

Looking Forward to the Good Times Ahead!

What a difference one week makes.

It’s hard to believe it was only seven days ago when I shared my excitement and exhaustion after completing my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. On this Motivation Monday, I find myself experiencing those same polar opposites again. I’m overjoyed my father made it through severe spinal surgery five days ago, and I’m exhausted for the very same reason.

Obviously, this experience turned my normal routine upside down. Workouts were skipped; my eating-every-three-hours rule was broken; veggies and fruits were forgotten and sleeping came in small fits at best. However, one week of disruption is a small price to pay for my dad’s well-being. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this post, he’ll be on his way home from the hospital or maybe he’s already resting in his own bed. That makes today the start of getting back to normal.

Dad has four to six weeks of recovery ahead of him. That means a little extra worry for Mom and me while we try to keep him comfortable. But things will soon fall into a rhythm like they always do, even when those things are a little out of the ordinary. Workout schedules and healthy eating habits can be resumed, but having your loved ones healthy and happy can’t always be guaranteed. So, I’ll embrace the schedule changes knowing I still have my Dad going strong at 80-years-young.

I close this not-so-fitness-focused post with a huge thank you to my family, friends and everyone who offered prayers, support and concern during an overwhelming few days. With such an amazing support team behind me, I  know it’s only a matter of time before I get back on track with my own plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Avon39 2016

Sue, Molly, Me, Liz & Lori Earn our 39!

“Troll Sisters” Forever!

While doing the same thing over and over again can sometimes lead to boredom, I guarantee walking 39.3 miles in the fight against breast cancer is not one of them.

fullsizerender-2As I sit here on this Sunday night covered in sports cream and fighting to stay awake after completing my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, I hope you’ll forgive this somewhat simplistic but heartfelt Motivation Monday post. I offer two lists that sum up my emotions another unforgettable weekend here in New York City.

What I’m Thankful For:

  • My mom is now an eight-year survivor.
  • My generous supporters who got me to the starting line.
  • Joining my friend Sue for our third Avon39 Walk together.
  • Adding Molly, another St. Mary’s Gael, to this year’s experience.
  • The birth of two new friendships with Liz, a survivor; and Lori, Liz’s friend who flew in from Dallas.
  • The fun “hairstyle” Sue created for all of us, quickly transforming us into the fierce five unofficially known as “Team Troll.”
  • Seeing countless survivor t-shirts and pins along the walk.
  • Meeting so many people with unstoppable strength and determination, including Mike, whose 39.3-mile journey in Manhattan marked his 100th Avon39 walk to date.
  • The Avon39 crew members who kept us safe and cheered for us along 26.2 miles on Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday.
  • The strangers who took some time out of their weekend to stand on a street corner and offer a high-five of support.
Gaels Forever! Liz comes out to cheer us on.

Gaels Forever! Liz comes out to cheer us on.

What I Hope For:

  • To see even more survivors, including another high school gal pal Elizabeth, on next year’s walk.
  • To see more New Yorkers out on the streets on future walk weekends showing the pink warriors some love.
  • That one day in my Goddaughters’ lifetimes, we won’t have to ever walk again.

I wrap things up with a huge thank you to everyone who generously supported my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. Because of you I threw a  5,175-dollar punch in the fight against breast cancer, making this my biggest fundraising year yet. Please know that money will be used to support organizations that help men and women, regardless of their ability to pay, receive the medical care they need. I also want to thank everyone for your encouraging emails and texts and all those who liked or shared my social media posts documenting my preparation for the journey right through the weekends’ highs. I simply couldn’t have done any of this without an amazing team behind me. If you’d like to see even more fun photos from the weekend, you’ll find them on my LauraLovesFitness Facebook page.

The Trolls with 100-Walk Mike!

The Trolls with 100-Walk Mike!

If you’ve been thinking about being a part of Avon39 or other activities to wage war against a disease that remains the number one cancer killer of women, now’s the time to get out there and do it! Putting your best foot forward – literally – is probably one of the most empowering ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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!

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.

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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!

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