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A Fresh Start

Finding strength in letting go

Finding strength in letting go

On this Motivation Monday, I find myself starting over…yet again.

I have steered my career back on to the freelance highway. The idea is to stay the course until I decide what I really want to be when I “grow up.” The difference this time is that I’m more optimistic than ever that I’m on the brink of actually figuring it out.

Letting go or breaking free of a less-than-ideal situation is never easy. The unknown – daunting and scary – can be an unappealing choice compared to a comfortable routine, even if that day-to-day grind makes you unhappy. However, change can also be liberating.  I look at the days ahead as an opportunity for growth and the chance to explore ideas I never let formulate before, mostly because I was simply too scared to let them move to the forefront of my mind.

At 41, I realize I have many years ahead of me when it comes to working. Of course, if I win the lottery, all bets are off. If that happened, I’d simply volunteer my time as a health coach or something similar. So I thought it was the right time to not stand still in a place where the work was having a negative impact on the rest of my life.

This doesn’t mean the strong don’t get scared. I’m definitely a bit frightened of what lies ahead. However, at all the points in my life when fear has tried to cripple me, I’ve found it’s more important than ever to turn to the constants that provide the strength and fuel needed to move forward. For me, those constants include the love I’m lucky to have from my family and friends; my faith and last but certainly not least, the stress release I find in fitness. Sometimes an hour of sweat is all I need to give me the exact dose of endorphins and confidence I need to take the next step toward something better.

I hope you’ll stay tuned for more pages in this next chapter of my ever-evolving life. Of course, if you ever need a producer, voice over artist or media trainer- I hope you’ll keep me in mind!

Thank you for indulging me with this week’s post. My hope is maybe it gives someone else a push to take a bold step in his or her own life. Sometimes letting go is exactly what we need to do to stay the course on our journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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‘Tis the Season…

iStock_000014614375SmallOn this Motivation Monday, we’ve recovered from the turkey hangover but find ourselves ensconced in the hustle and bustle of the 2014 holiday season. While it’s known as “the most wonderful time of the year,” let’s not kid ourselves. It’s also a time filled with stress. How do we fit the shopping, decorating, card writing and other holiday prep into our days already filled with work, taking care of the kids and hosting or dropping in at a couple of  holiday parties along the way?

Despite the crunch, this is not the time to put the sneakers and workout wear in the back of the closet until 2015. In fact, the extra stress and calories thrown into our already frenetic days should make finding time to exercise more important than ever. It could be just what both your mind and body need to let go and enjoy some holiday cheer!

No doubt the extra chores paired with fewer hours of daylight can make it feel like there are fewer hours in the day. If you normally spend more than an hour at the gym or take 90-minute power walks with your friends in the neighborhood, chances are you’re going to need to spend some of those minutes elsewhere. So, here are some tips on how to fit fitness into your busy holiday schedule:

  • Switch things up: Try working out in the morning. If you can hit the gym, take a walk or break a sweat with some help from your favorite workout DVD first thing in the morning, you can cross exercise off your to-do list for the day. Two bonuses: you’ll be energized and focused thanks to the endorphin rush AND you’ll feel less guilty about having a treat or two at the holiday get-together in the evening.
  • Try the group thing: Most group exercise classes run between 45 and 60 minutes and take the guesswork out of planning your own routine. Give total body conditioning or strength training classes a shot as they get your heart rate up and hit all the major muscle groups in a short window. The group environment also gives you the opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone who can share his or her own holiday season survival tips!
  • Make shopping physical: If you drive to a mall, don’t look for the closest parking spot to the entrance. Also, be sure to wear walking shoes or cross trainers to keep your body moving efficiently while you rush from store to store.
  • Arm yourself with healthy snacks: If you’re squeezing in a shopping trip between work and picking up the kids, chances are you’re in between meals and could be hit with a snack attack. Instead of letting the smell of cinnamon, chocolate or other decadent temptation get the best of you at the mall, be sure to have some almonds, an apple or snack bar in your bag (No matter what purse I leave the house with, there’s always a KIND bar stuck in one of the pockets).
  • Don’t arrive hungry: Never show up for a holiday get-together feeling ravenous. If you’re eating late in the day, have portion-controlled healthy meals leading up to the main event and a snack up to an hour before arriving at the party. This can help you avoid grabbing the first high-calorie, high-fat item you see.

What are your tricks for getting through the holiday season? I’d love to know! Sharing ideas is one of the best ways to get through a busy season and stay on the path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

‘Tis the Season to Mind Your Mental Fitness!

Christmas gift and baubles on defocused lights backgroundThis Motivation Monday leaves us with just 15 shopping days until Christmas. The way things were in the stores in my neighborhood on Saturday, you’d think Armageddon was coming! As I made my way through the throngs of people searching for stocking stuffers and indulgent treats, I kept closing my eyes to block out the general feeling of impatience permeating the air in the overheated stores. What better time to touch on the importance of keeping our mental health in check during the hustle and bustle of this joyous but chaotic season.

Last week, I encouraged everyone to put just 10-minutes aside for a workout as a way of keeping the holiday stress level under control. Along with working and managing family responsibilities, many of us are also juggling decorating, extra cooking, party planning, card writing, waiting in lines in crowded stores and spending extra amounts of time with extended family. Add online shopping and recipe surfing to the everyday stimuli of emails, texts, Tweets and status updates and it’s no wonder our 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. 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.
  • Turn off the TV: Try to establish one night where you set the DVR and turn a show’s normal viewing time into decompress 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’re making the commitment to find 10 minutes (or more) in your crazy schedule to exercise, add just 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. Also, don’t underestimate the power of caffeine-free teas or scented candles.

As you work through this holiday season and make an effort to workout, don’t forget 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!

Quick-Hit Motivation Monday

We ARE Stronger Than We Think! Photo by Leslie Hassler

We ARE Stronger Than We Think!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know one of the biggest reasons I’ve continued my lifelong love affair with exercise is that it keeps me balanced through times of stress. It never ceases to amaze me how breaking a serious sweat can set my mind straight no matter what’s being thrown at me. No doubt I’ll be relying on that outlet more than ever this week.

My father is having heart surgery tomorrow. While I’m confident everything’s going to be just fine, it’s obviously been a nerve-wracking time. So, on Saturday morning, I made sure I got a Physique57 class in before heading to Long Island to help my parents get ready for the week at the hospital. On Sunday afternoon, after Church, brunch and helping Mom get organized, I took myself to the gym for a 60-minute sweat session. The high-intensity workout on the elliptical trainer and recumbent bike followed by plank and rope Tabatas helped me shake off some tension and cleared my head. As I sit here and type away, I feel a bit lighter and the extended endorphin rush has only positive vibes running through my body. I know everything’s going to be just fine.

So on this particular Motivation Monday, I want to remind everyone that we’re stronger than we think. Life can throw a lot at us, and sometimes it feels like the toughest things hit us all at once. I learned my dad needed surgery two days after the company I worked for since 2005 filed for bankruptcy and let all its employees go. Since then, I’ve been getting up at the same time every morning, staying on a schedule, working out and leaning on friends and family for support. Sticking with that plan of attack is what will get me through the next two weeks, and the two after that and….well, you get the idea.

As a thank you to all of you who’ve been so supportive and left wonderful wishes for me here or on my social media networks, I offer this boost of confidence: Remember, whatever life throws at you this week, you can handle it. Focus on the positive, do what you can to stay healthy and remember, there are always brighter days on the horizon when it’ll be a little easier to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Mind Over Matter Monday

More Motivation to Move: Exercise & Peace of Mind
Photo by Leslie Hassler

Despite a hot and sticky weekend here in New York, I’m ready to face the work week with new energy. While that’s definitely due to a bit of rest and relaxation, it’s also because I made a point of fitting some fitness into my days off. So I thought it was the perfect time to address one of my biggest sources of motivation: exercise helps sharpen my mental focus.

For as long as I can remember, working out has helped me sort through what I like to call mental clutter. Clearing that clutter with a kick-butt cardio session, group exercise class or weight training circuit allows me to me to re-group and tackle whatever issue I need to spend time sorting out in my brain. It’s as if by sweating out the anxiety surrounding the need to address a situation, all I’m left with is an endorphin rush to actually sit down and sort things out.

Putting the serious “stuff” aside for a moment, I can simply say having an improved mental focus helps me get things done. Ever have a to-do list get all jumbled in your head? The tasks of the day, week or even month ahead seem daunting and overwhelming. For me, just 10 minutes in to a 30-minute elliptical session, things start to un-jumble. I listen to my favorite music, feel my heart beating and my breath coming faster and I feel as I’m gaining new confidence with each stride on that machine. Confidence that things will get done. Maybe not immediately following that workout, but I will meet my deadlines and somehow get it together.

It’s after these workouts when I return home, clean up and refuel with healthy food that I can then turn what was once a jumbled mess into a thought-out list on paper or here on my computer so I know exactly what I need to do. Having a plan is the first step in getting things done. Exercise helps me take that important first step.

On the “heavy” side, I can honestly say in times of worry, distress and grief, clearing the mind with a workout somehow helps my heart feel lighter, too. I realize exercise in itself can’t solve the big problems or make life-altering decisions for you. I also know it can take a burdened heart some time to catch up with a newly uncluttered mind. However, through the ups and downs of my life, exercise has always been a good place to start my search for emotional solace. (Okay, I won’t lie, chocolate helps sometimes, too!)

On Mondays, I know many of us look for motivation to put a fitness plan into action or to ensure we stay on course with the one we’ve worked so hard to make a part of our daily routine. So here are my two cents: Why not make this the day you start clearing the clutter so you can get back on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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