Slow and Steady and Making Strides
There’s no doubt the summer of 2019 will have a special place in my memory. Above all in the journey toward my first bikini competition, the one thing that continues to amaze me is the speedy passage of time. Needless to say, I’ve had next to nothing on the social calendar for the past 10 weeks. Yet, each day disappears into night and I gasp a little louder when each Saturday arrives and I realize I’m that much closer to stepping on stage. With a little less than six weeks to go, I now find myself not only excited about the actual event, but I’m also getting downright giddy thinking about the treats and time with family and friends I’ll be able to enjoy when it’s over.
One of those events takes place exactly two months from today. On October 20th, I’ll lace up for my second Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Central Park. As you longtime readers know, I’m a former Avon39er and this marks the fifth year I’m pounding the pavement in the fight against breast cancer. Once again, I’ll walk to honor warrior survivors like my Mom and in memory of those who lost their brave battle, including my friend Elizabeth Leonard Barton. The routes may have changed over the years, but the mission remains the same: raising money to kick breast cancer to the curb and to help fund the services assisting patients battling the disease today. If you’d like to consider making a donation, please click here to check out my personal Making Strides page. Remember, every dollar really does help. (A big thank you to all the generous people who’ve helped me raise more than $24,000 since 2014.)
While the Walk is still a couple of months away, the NPC Brooklyn Grand Prix is just around the corner. The past week challenged me to use a little extra caution with my upper body workouts as I continue to nurse some aches, pains and strains. The good news is I listened to my body -and my coach!- and let my upper body rest for almost a full two weeks before attacking the weights again. This training has pushed my body to new limits and part of the learning process has been knowing when to step back and make adjustments.
Meanwhile, the meal prep and posing practice continues. My current struggle is trying to get consistent, solid shut eye. Though I fall asleep pretty easily, it’s getting back to sleep after a wakeup that’s causing the biggest disruption to my sleep schedule. So I’ll be looking for ways to improve my important overnight recovery sessions in the days and weeks ahead.
I wrap up this Transformation Tuesday like so many others: with a big thank you to all those who continue to cheer me on this journey. Here’s to making the most of what’s left of the summer of 2019 and the opportunities we have yet to discover on the never-ending road to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Less Than One Month To Go…
This Motivation Monday marks the less-than-one-month countdown until I lace up for my first Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Central Park. So it’s time to pull out all the stops in trying to raise as much money as possible in the fight against a disease that claims too many lives in these modern times.
Full disclosure: I miss the long, weekend morning training walks of Septembers passed when I’d prepare for the 39.3-mile journey that was Avon39. However, though my walking buddy Sue and I face a shorter distance to complete our first Making Strides Walk, the mission remains the same – to raise money for research to put an end to a disease estimated to kill more than 40,000 women before the end of 2018. The dollars will also provide patients with transportation to and from treatments and even help with lodging for those who need to travel far from home to receive that essential care.
To all my generous donors so far, I offer a heartfelt thank you. For anyone considering making a donation, please click here to be taken to my personal page. Like any good fight, I truly believe we can win the battle against breast cancer with teamwork. Strength in numbers is an essential component in our collective efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
New Strides in the Fight Against Breast Cancer
Instead of my usual Motivation Monday post, I decided to publish my latest Laura Loves Fitness musings on a much more significant day during this particular week. Today would have been Elizabeth Leonard Barton’s 45th birthday. My repeat readers may remember she is the dear friend from my St. Mary’s High School days who lost her brave battle with breast cancer nearly two years ago. While I know I’ll never get used to the fact Liz was taken from this world far too soon, I will celebrate her warrior spirit today by remembering her with love. In honor of her birthday, I could think of no better time to sign up to take my next steps in the fight against breast cancer – and ask for your support.
As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor and four-time walker in Avon39, I was sad to learn the June 2017 Walk in Boston would the last 39.3-mile journey I’d share with Sue, another beloved St. Mary’s Gael. However, this spring we learned Avon was shifting its breast cancer crusade efforts to become the first ever national presenting sponsor for all of the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events.
Just like she did with our inaugural Avon walk together back in 2014, Sue signed up first for the American Cancer Society’s Central Park Walk taking place on Sunday, October 14. She created the Gael Force Wind team in Liz’s honor. While the route will be different and the journey not as long, we’ll be walking toward the finish line with the same mission: raising money to kick breast cancer’s butt once and for all and to help fund the services assisting patients battling the disease today. Those services include helping patients get rides to and from their treatments; assisting with lodging for patients who may need to leave home for their treatment and providing support groups for patients and their families.
For the October event I have set a fundraising goal of $1800, which was the minimum amount needed to participate in my past Avon39 walks. To all my Avon39 donors, I thank you for helping me raise more than $20,000 since 2014 in the fight against breast cancer and hope you’ll continue your generous support. For anyone considering a donation, please know every dollar helps. Please click here to be taken to my personal page where you can make a donation – and maybe even consider joining the Gael Force Wind team. Obviously, this will be the first of several posts here and on my social media channels to encourage people to get involved in the fight against breast cancer.
I close with a huge thank you for the support you’ve given me since I started this blog seven years ago. Whether you offered words of encouragement to keep up with my mission to fight breast cancer or just get through a particular struggle in this windy road called life, I am beyond blessed to have family and friends who are always in my corner. Here’s to our next steps together in the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
My Project Runway Experience
When I signed up for my first Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer back in 2014, I had no idea it would lead to meeting one of my favorite TV personalities and fashion gurus.
If you tuned in to last week’s episode of Project Runway, you may have caught a glimpse of me and some amazing women sporting pink boxing gloves flanking Tim Gunn in the ring at Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn. I was honored to be selected to be a part of this group assembled to serve as inspiration in the “Avon Warrior Challenge.” The remaining contestants -and viewers around the country, listened to Avon’s Executive Director of Sales Development Evy DeAngelis (there’s a chance we could be distant cousins!) describe the company’s mission of improving the lives of women globally and its long history of fighting breast cancer through the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Next, we heard from fierce survivors Michelle Ward and Tawana Lyles as they each described their personal battle with breast cancer. The forever-gracious Tim then instructed the designers to use this information as inspiration to create designs showcasing the warrior spirit.
As a producer who knows all too well how much footage ends up on the cutting room floor, I thought I’d give a few more details about Avon’s background in the fight against breast cancer. Since 1992, the Breast Cancer Crusade has donated more than $800 million to breast cancer causes, educated millions and has funded breast health screenings for nearly 20 million women. Some of the funds are raised through Avon 39 Walks around the country. As my repeat readers know, I’ve made some incredible memories on four Avon walks to date and I don’t plan on stopping until we wipe out this disease once and for all. Click here to learn more about the Crusade and to learn more about Michelle, Tawana and the other “warriors” featured in this special episode – Anita Shivraj, Linda Montavon, Ivanna Diaz-Hansen and Donna Reid-Mitchell.
I close this Motivation Monday post with a thank you to Avon for asking me to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience and for giving me the opportunity to meet an amazing group of fierce, fabulous women who I am lucky to call new, lifelong friends. I also want to thank everyone who shared in my excitement leading up to the show; those who took the time to send an email, text or leave a kind comment on my social media pages afterward and to the special group of friends who watched the episode with me. I am already looking forward to my next Avon Walk in 2018…and here’s to the unexpected adventures ahead of all of us as we continue on this journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Pulling Out All the Stops
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!
Earning my 39 on the Road!
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!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!
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.
As 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.
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.
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!
Special Saturday Edition: Happy October!
- This is the month the most important woman in my life, my mom, came into the world and
- It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month
In exactly two weeks from the moment you’re reading this, I’ll be making strides in my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. Thanks to a generous group of friends and family, this looks to be my biggest fundraising year yet. Now I’m pulling out the stops to bring in as many dollars as I can in the fight against breast cancer.
The money raised will help fund research, awareness and education while also providing assistance for those affected by breast cancer and their loved ones. My beloved mom is a breast cancer survivor and one of my high school friends continues to wage her own war against the disease, so I can tell you from experience how each and every dollar really does count. I hope you’ll consider joining the fight. All you need to do is click here to make your tax-deductible donation. In case you’re wondering, more than 3,500 people participated in Avon39 here in New York City and raised more than $8.7 million. Since 2003, Avon39 walks around the country have raised nearly $590 million.
Aside from fundraising, I’ve been busy breaking in my sneakers on 10- and 13-mile training walks with my amazingly supportive boyfriend. I have at least two more training “sessions” in my future before the October 15th start. Soon, I’ll be buying my moisture-wicking socks, Band-Aid Friction Stick and other Walk “tools” for the 39.3-mile journey around Manhattan. Each day, I’m getting more and more excited to join fellow St. Mary’s Gael Sue for our third walk together. This year, we’re excited to have Molly, another high school gal pal, join in the fun! While Avon39 has become one of my new favorite fall traditions, my hope is that one day we won’t have to walk anymore.
One final note before you go off and enjoy some well-deserved weekend fun: thank you to all my readers for supporting all my adventures on this never-ending road to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!