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These Dark Days…

If you’re finding it hard to be inspired on this Motivation Monday, you’re not alone. Blame it on the one thing most of us simply can’t escape: the end of Daylight Saving Time and the beginning of the darker days that will continue through spring of 2018.

Here in New York, we were spoiled with unusually warm temperatures right through the end of October. Then over this past weekend, we were hit with a sudden blast of cold temperatures and brisk winds that reminded us we do indeed live in the Northeast. Add the fact that many of us leave for work in the morning and step out of the office at the end of the day enveloped in darkness, and you have the perfect mix to want to ditch any exercise plans and spend as much time as possible on the cozy couch.

So, I thought it was a good time to offer a few tips to help you stay on track through the season ahead:

  • Do NOT Leave Home Without the Workout Wear: If you normally exercise after work, make sure to bring your gym bag to the office. If you have to go home to change before your workout, you come face to face with the temptation to stay there.
  • Get Physical at Lunchtime: If you usually hit the gym before heading to the office or after dropping the kids off for school, why not consider moving your workout to lunchtime? Even under a cloudy sky, it’s brighter at midday. Sometimes that’s all you need to get your butt into the gym. And maybe there’s a new group exercise class offered at midday that could add some variety to your routine.
  • Make More Workout Dates:  Make plans to meet a friend for that morning power walk (just be sure to wear reflective gear if it’s dark!), lunchtime kickboxing class or evening barre session. Wanting to avoid the “guilt” of standing up a friend can keep you committed to your scheduled exercise plans.

I leave you with this final tip: remembering how good you feel after a workout may provide the biggest incentive to stick with your routine even on the darkest days ahead. Never underestimate the power of that post-exercise endorphin rush as you continue on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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Extra Tired on this Motivation Monday? You’re Not Alone!

If you’re a little extra groggy on this particular Motivation Monday, I feel your pain. Here in New York not only did we trudge around in bitter cold temperatures all weekend, but now we’re bracing for what could be a monster blizzard tonight into tomorrow. Despite the weather where you live, most of you reading this post also changed the clocks for the start of Daylight Saving Time. While we added some welcome sunlight to our days, we also lost an hour of something most of us never get enough of: sleep. So why not use this drowsy day to take stock of something too many people overlook: your sleep habits.

Research shows along with helping us stay energized, sleep helps us retain information and boost our mood. Search the Internet, and you’ll even find studies linking inadequate sleep to weight gain. On a personal note, when I rack up too many consecutive nights without enough shut-eye, it’s harder to concentrate on everything from my work to my workouts. I also find myself being annoyed by the little things that usually roll off my back.

Here are some ideas to make sure you get those all-important zzzz’s:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can help you sleep. However, if I exercise less than two hours before going to bed, the endorphins keep me up. Aim to wrap a workout three hours before bedtime.
  • Alcohol: My repeat readers know I enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day. However, too much alcohol can have the opposite effect of calming the nerves and end up wrecking your night. And obviously, having a hangover in the morning is never a good thing.
  • Caffeine: Some of my friends can have coffee at 8 pm and still fall asleep at 10:30 pm. If I have caffeine after 3 pm, I’m looking at a rough night ahead. The key is to pay attention to how your body reacts. Make sure you check for “hidden” caffeine in things like flavored teas and chocolate.
  • Stress:  This is an area under never-ending construction in my life. One thing that’s I’ve worked on during the past year is writing down my to-do lists and long-term product ideas at least an hour before getting into bed. Putting my tasks and even my worries “on paper” gives me a clearer outline of what’s ahead instead of letting it swarm around in my brain while I lie in the dark.
  • Shutting Down:  If you scan the Internet, you’ll find plenty of research on how watching TV in bed and using smart phones and other portable devices can be overstimulating when your body is trying to wind down. Aim to power down at least 30 minutes before closing those tired eyes for the night.

Remember, if you’ve made the commitment to workout and watch what you eat, you owe it to yourself to give your body time to rest and recharge. It’s all part of the winning formula to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Winter Blues Be Gone!

iStock_000014614375SmallI don’t know about you, but I’m ecstatic to think that this is the last Motivation Monday before Daylight Saving time. At this time next week, we can all bask in the joy of more sunlight!

I really can’t put my finger on why, but this has felt like the never-ending winter. It’s not that the weather has been particularly harsh this season in New York. But somehow January and February were two very loooonnnng months.

The only thing I can attribute this to is a good old case of the winter blues. This year, I found a lot of my friends and family shared in a similar case of the blahs. Maybe it’s partly due to the state of chaos the whole country seems to be experiencing – at least if you read all the social media feeds. Or maybe it’s because I told myself this was the year I’d make some big decisions on what’s next in my career and…and here we are three months into the New Year and I haven’t figured things out yet.

As you readers know, I’m anything but your doom-and-gloom kinda gal. So on the positive side, I can say I am more grateful than ever that I have exercise in my life to help turn even the most blasé of blah days into manageable ones. For anyone else out there counting the minutes until the brighter, warmer days of spring, now’s the perfect time to keep exercise on your schedule. If it’s not on there already, consider the new month a chance to mix things up in your daily routine. Exercise does a mind and body good thanks to the endorphins that flow through the body when you workout and stick with you long after the group exercise class or weight training session is done. If you’re finding it hard enough to get your butt out the door after a long day of work or school to head to the gym, remember you can get that endorphin rush in the comfort of your own home!

In an effort to share a warm reminder that spring is just a few weeks away, I thought I’d re-post my “Tear-It-Up In Ten” workout video. Even though I demonstrate the circuit in Central Park, all the exercises can be done indoors and require no equipment. Hopefully, seeing some sunshine and greenery will also give you a glimpse at what we have to look forward to in the not-so-distant future. Remember – sometimes taking  your workout and your mind to another place is all you  need to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

The Missing Link in Your Health & Fitness Routine

an alarm clock adjusting backward one hour and the text end of daylight saving timeThis weekend gave us two big reasons to cheer:

  1. Nearly 50,000 people crossed the finish line in the TCS New York City marathon. Congratulations to all you amazing athletes who participated in this incredible test of endurance!
  2. Most Americans enjoyed an extra hour of zzzzzzz’s thanks to the end of Daylight Saving Time.

So I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday to encourage everyone to think about an often overlooked piece of the well-being puzzle: your sleep habits.

Why do we need sleep? Research shows along with helping us stay energized, sleep helps regulate our mood and learn and retain valuable information. There are even studies linking inadequate sleep to weight gain. On a personal note, when I rack up too many consecutive nights without enough shut-eye, it’s harder to concentrate on everything from work to working out and I find myself annoyed by trivial things that usually roll off my back.

Here are some ideas for incorporating those all-important zzzz’s into your healthy routine:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can help you sleep. However, if I exercise less than two hours before going to bed, the endorphins keep me up. Aim to wrap a workout three hours before bedtime.
  • Alcohol: Anyone who’s read this blog for some time knows I enjoy a glass of wine to unwind at the end of the day. However, too much alcohol can have the opposite effect of calming the nerves and end up
  • However, too much alcohol can have the opposite effect of calming the nerves and end up wrecking your night. Of course, having a hangover the next day after too many libations is never a good thing.
  • Caffeine: I have some friends who can have a cup of coffee after dinner at 8 pm and still fall asleep at 10:30 pm. If I have caffeine after 3 pm, I’m looking at a rough night ahead. The key is to pay attention to how your body reacts. Make sure you check for “hidden” caffeine in things like herbal teas and chocolate.
  • Hunger:  The bottom line is you don’t want to go to bed hungry, but you don’t want to be too full either. I try not to snack at night after dinner, but if I do, I go for a single-serve bag of 94% fat-free popcorn, a skinny cow fudge pop or a few clementines or mandarins. Frozen grapes are great for taming those sweet cravings, too.
  • Stress:  This an area I hope to manage better this year. I recently read somewhere it’s a good idea to write down all your worries an hour before getting into bed. Whether it’s the to-do list for the next day or some project that’s been on your plate for awhile, writing things down gets the worry “out there” and you can deal with it in the morning. I find the nights I write in my journal (which I’ve been keeping since I was
  • Shutting Down:  If you scan the Internet, you’ll find plenty of research on how watching TV in bed and using smart phones and other portable devices can be overstimulating when your body is trying to wind down. Aim to power down at least 30 minutes before closing those tired eyes for the night.

Remember, if you’ve made the commitment to workout and watch what you eat, you also owe it to yourself to give your body time to rest and recharge. It’s all part of the winning formula to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Don't Get Sidelined By Darker Days!

Don’t Get Sidelined By Darker Days!

If you’re finding it hard to be inspired on this Motivation Monday, you’re not alone. Blame it on the one thing most of us simply can’t escape: the end of Daylight Saving Time.

Even though we just wrapped up a week of ridiculously warm November temperatures here in New York, the one normal thing that took place each day was the disarming loss of sunlight before 6 pm. We’ve started the time of year when many of us leave home each morning in the dark only to leave work at the end of a long day and find ourselves enveloped in darkness once again. Add the inevitable drop in temperatures looming in the days ahead, and you have the perfect mix to want to ditch any exercise plans and head straight for the cozy couch.

So, I thought it was a good time to offer a few tips to help you stay on track this season:

  • Do NOT Leave Home Without the Workout Wear: If you normally exercise after work, make sure to bring your gym bag to the office. If you have to go home to change before your workout, you’ll only find yourself face-to-face with that comfy couch tempting you to take a load off – and stay there.
  • Get Physical at Lunchtime: If you usually hit the gym before heading to the office or after dropping the kids off for school, why not consider moving your workout to lunchtime? Even under a cloudy sky, it’s brighter at midday. Sometimes that’s all you need to get your butt into the gym. It’s also the perfect time to see if that group exercise class you’ve been curious about is offered at lunchtime.
  • Make More Workout Dates:  Plan to meet a friend for that morning power walk, lunchtime body conditioning or evening barre workout. Wanting to avoid the “guilt” of standing up a friend can keep you committed to your scheduled exercise plans.

I leave you with this final tip: remembering how good you feel after a workout may provide the biggest incentive to stick with your routine even on the darkest days ahead. Never underestimate the power of that post-exercise endorphin rush as you continue on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Fitness for the Greater Good

Just Like Being at a Nightclub on Two Wheels!

Just Like Being at a Nightclub on Two Wheels!

This Motivation Monday arrives just after the long-awaited arrival of daylight saving time. Even though snow and the rest of Old Man Winter’s mess remain on many streets and sidewalks across the country, may the extra hour of daylight remind us a new season is coming. Warmth is on the way. Soon we’ll shed the cumbersome coats, hair-wrecking hats and trade in the bulky boots for fancier footwear.

Need some more staying power to make it until the official start of the new season? Take a cue from the thousands of people who helped provide some serious ammunition in the fight against rare cancers by sweating it out in Cycle for Survival over the weekend. The indoor cycling event was founded in 2007 by Jennifer Goodman Linn, a Memorial Sloan Kettering patient and Equinox member, and her husband Dave. That first year, the New York City event raised 250-thousand dollars with help from 230 cyclers who rode shifts on 50 bikes. In 2009, Cycle for Survival became an official Sloan Kettering Cancer Center event, and Equinox became the founding partner.

Sadly, Jen lost her own battle with cancer in 2011, but her fight lives on in the thousands of participants who have turned what I’d describe as the biggest dance party on two wheels into one of the country’s fastest-growing fundraisers. Last year, 17,000 cyclers put the pedal to the metal on 4,020 bikes in 13 cities across the country to raise 20-million dollars. Today, I had the privilege of watching along with the cyclers and their supporters as MSK Cancer Center President and CEO, Dr. Craig Thompson, received a ceremonial check for just over 24-million dollars – and this year’s fundraising isn’t over yet.

It’s always a privilege when my professional world as a producer allows me to be a part of a fitness-focused event that does so much to help so many. The get-your-blood-pumping playlists and palpable energy of the cyclers had me and my crew cheering and dancing in our own space as we made our way around the floor to capture the spirit of the event. In addition to the unwavering enthusiasm of the cyclers – some even sweat through an entire four-hour shift solo – the other unique feature of this event is that 100-percent of all the money raised goes directly to rare cancer research, and it’s all dispersed within six months.

No doubt it’s been a long, harsh winter for many of us. For patients battling cancer and their families, any season can bring a relentless storm. Thanks to events like Cycle for Survival, we can put our passion for exercise to good use and help others in their fight to get back on their own path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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