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The Test of Time

Twenty-Nine Years Later…

On this last Workout Wednesday of my 45th year on the planet, I find my mind swirling with questions about one thing: Time. Where does it go? How can so much of it pass in what feels like the blink of an eye while the calendar shows a much different reality?

I know this reflection began thanks to a long overdue reunion with Tracy, Lisa, Molly, Evva, Jessica and Irene: six incredible women I met on or soon after day one at Northwestern University. The impossible reality is those friendships were born 29 years ago. While our hair styles and fashion choices have (thankfully) changed since then, our hearts and souls don’t feel that much different. We may have a few more lines on our faces after decades of smiles (and tears); a few of us may need eyeglasses (and I’m the first “proud owner” of a hearing aid), but the traits that make each of us unique yet brought us together remain.

Of course, if I stop and think about the trials we’ve experienced since our Wildcat days, the heart can suddenly feel older. In the ’90s, we struggled through the stress of exams and breakups with some of our first loves. Today, we are who we are because of  greater challenges: career highs and lows; marital ups and downs; childrens’ growing pains; aging parents; and the most difficult game-changer of all: the loss of parents, grandparents, other relatives and even friends. And too much thinking about the circumstances surrounding those losses, whether a longterm illness or an unexpected tragedy, only adds more wear and tear to the often fragile heart.We can’t fight the passage of time. But with each year that passes, I am all too aware of how blessed I am to wake up to each and every new day. And that’s why I am grateful I had the opportunity to spend 48 hours with the people who sometimes knew me better than I knew myself at a time when we were all trying to find our way in the world as adults.

Last weekend marked the first time in 10 years the seven of us had been together. We said our teary goodbyes with a promise we’d never wait that long again. If there’s someone you’ve been wanting to spend time with but have always found a reason not to – just do it. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Embrace the present and any opportunity you’re blessed with to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Birthday Reflections

Not a Bad Place to Wrap Up 41...

Escape to Curacao: My Favorite Memory From the End of My 41st Year.

Wow. Time really does fly. I’m not sure where the past year went, but this Motivation Monday marks the last day of my 41st year on the planet.

As I sit here and reflect on life, as I think many of us do when another birthday rolls around, I’m overwhelmed by a sense of honesty. Honesty about how getting older is both good and bad for so many reasons.

While experience has probably made me a bit wiser than I was on this date in 2015, knowledge does come with a cost. Over the years, I’ve gained more confidence to be myself and follow my heart in challenging situations. That courage of conviction, however, is the result of seeing more and more evidence of how short our time is here on this Earth.

My parents and other loved ones are getting older. Some of my friends have already lost one or both parents. Some friends – older and younger than me – are in a fight for their own lives. Jobs are lost, marriages fall apart and sometimes people you never thought you’d be without move far away in the hopes of working toward a better future. I know these events are simply part of this windy road we call life, but it seems they’ve arrived in a flurry since I started my 40s.

Please don’t think this is a sad reflection on turning a year older. It’s simply a realization that despite the challenges that have snuck up on me through the decades, I’m both lucky and blessed to have my family and an amazing support network of friends to keep me grounded. The two other stabilizing factors in my life have been my faith and my love for exercise. Since turning 40, I’ve made bigger strides to eat healthier than I ever have before. The result of this combination is not only being in the best physical shape of my life, but my mental health is in a good place, too. Sometimes all I need is an hour to work up a good sweat so I can face whatever the day throws at me – a demanding client; a phone call with a friend going through a rough time or news about someone I love receiving a terrible diagnosis – with more courage than I thought I had in me.

I’m definitely looking forward to what’s next. What will happen in my ever-changing career? What special occasions will I get to share with friends and family? For starters, I plan to kick off my 42nd year with a good Physique57 workout, a little mani-pedi pampering and a perhaps a minor overdose of chocolate and prosecco with a heaping side portion of laughter with friends. Let me take this moment to thank my family, friends and all my readers for helping me face my birthday with a smile. Here’s to a new year ahead filled with endless chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Friday Free-For-All

NU Gals Strike Again!  At the Driskill Hotel

NU Gals Strike Again! At the Driskill Hotel

It’s hard to believe at this time last week, I was just starting my five-day escape to Texas. The trip was everything I hoped it would be: good times with good friends from different parts of my life. The fact that I got to enjoy some much-needed 70-degree sunshine for a few days was an extra bonus!

Here are a few of my favorite things from my trip to Texas (in no particular order):

Austin:

  • DSC06826The three-cheese Texas toast grilled cheese at 24 Diner.
  • Blueberry pancakes at Kerby Lane Cafe.
  • Celebrating National Margarita Day at the Hula Hut and Chuy’s.
  • A simply fabulous dinner at the Driskill Grill.
  • IMG_0046Tabata training in the Westin’s fitness center to counter some of the calories ingested in the highlights above.
  • Countless laughs with my Northwestern gal pals Tracy, Molly, Evva, Lisa, Jessica and Irene! (Laughing doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as my typical workouts, but it certainly felt good!)
Lunch with Jeanne Marie at Red Hot & Blue

Lunch with Jeanne Marie at Red Hot & Blue

Dallas:

  • The “Five Meat Treat” at Red Hot & Blue BBQ.
  • “Bleeding Heart” margaritas and Baja fish tacos at Ochos.
  • Sipping pre-Oscar Prosecco with my lifelong friend Jeanne Marie while her husband (and bona fide “Grill Master”) Paul fired up a delicious steak dinner.
  • Getting to know their four-month-old baby Charlotte!
  • Watching the end of the Oscars while sipping red wine and sitting in their hot tub.
  • Rolling out of bed and burning some calories from the above-mentioned highlights in their home gym.

Dallas BBQBy now, you’ve probably noticed a common theme in my vacation-related posts: Laura loves to eat and drink! This is why I always pack the workout wear and get in a couple of calorie-busting sessions wherever I go.

Baja Fish TacosHowever, along with the moisture-wicking gear, I also work hard at letting my vacation mindset take over when I arrive at my destination. That means realizing the opportunities for these special get-togethers don’t come around as often as we’d like and since we enjoy catching up over fun food and cocktails, it’s definitely not the time to obsess over counting calories!

ProseccoAfter a little bit of decadence, I actually look forward to getting back on track with my normal healthy eating habits and kicking it up a notch at the gym. On that note, I encourage everyone to enjoy whatever memorable moments present themselves in the weekend ahead. Life’s simply too short not to embrace all that you love in this world. If that includes chocolate and red wine,  dig in, sip and enjoy and remember, even indulgences have a place in our ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Letting Go

NU gal-pal reunion, NOLA, 2009: I see more margaritas in our future this weekend!

NU gal-pal reunion, NOLA, 2009: I see more margaritas in our future this weekend!

I end this week on a short note of personal reflection, but it’s one I hope many of you loyal readers can relate to.

Thanks to President’s Day, this started as a four-day work week. Then it hit me that I’d be spending even less hours at the office because of the Northwestern gal-pal getaway planned several months ago. The mini-reunion turned into the perfect excuse to take a couple of extra days off to visit another lifelong friend and her husband who welcomed their first baby a few months ago. As you read this post, I’m either watching TV in my JetBlue seat or already having fun in Austin, Texas. No doubt there will be plenty of laughs and a few cocktails involved in the extended weekend ahead!

Somewhere in the midst of my excitement, an unwelcome visitor crept in to my mind: worry. I started worrying about getting everything “in order” before I left. Specifically, I found myself worrying about writing for my blog and scheduling a few posts while I was away. On top of that, I started worrying about making extra time to burn some extra calories before what’s sure to be another high-caloric good time. That spiraled into worry over whether I’ve had a few too many of those good times lately without enough time in between to reset my “healthy living” button. Then I took out my mental sledgehammer and smashed all that worry to pieces.

These are all “issues” not worthy of a second thought. This blog is supposed to be one of my outlets. If I don’t post on Monday, Wednesday AND Friday next week, the world will keep spinning. Working out is an even bigger outlet in my life, so why in the world would I waste time and energy worrying about that?  Finally, if having one too many margaritas with friends I haven’t seen in years is a problem, well, then I’ve got much bigger issues to deal with when it comes to embracing some fun in this all-too-stressed-out world!

I guess sometimes we all need to step back and realize it’s okay to let go once in awhile. Reality will be waiting for me when I get home, along with the gym and my favorite group exercise classes. For now, the workout wear is packed and I’m ready for my Texas adventures. While I’m not sure what day my next post will appear, I am certain about one thing: I’m not going to worry about it while I’m away.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend so we can all face the new work week with even more energy to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

The Perfect Occasion to Celebrate You!

Happy Friday, everyone!

I’m especially looking forward to the weekend ahead as my fabulous friend, Ania, is coming to town to celebrate her birthday in New York City! Ania and I have known each other since the first day of first grade, so we’ve been fortunate to celebrate many birthdays and other fun life events together. Of course, we’ve helped each other through the not-so-great times, too, which is what being a friend is all about.

I figured this was the perfect time to write about how your birthday really is the one day on the calendar when you should celebrate you! It’s a time to think of all the things you’ve accomplished, while also setting goals for the year ahead. I can’t think of a better time to really assess your fitness goals and figure out what you want to do to feel better than you do today. Maybe this is the year you’ll take up one of your favorite “childhood” sports, like tennis. Maybe you’ve always wanted to train for a marathon or get a mountain bike for rides on the weekends. Perhaps it’s time to start having a healthier relationship with fruit, veggies and whole grains. Or maybe it’s just time to treat yourself to a good pair of sneakers and cute yoga pants for group exercise classes or walks around the neighborhood.

Of course, your birthday should be filled with more than just “serious” contemplation. It’s the perfect excuse to go out and have some fun!  Party plans with Ania include tapas and sangria followed by dancing, which to me is one of the best ways to burn a few calories after some celebratory splurging! (Considering Ania and I have been known to dance nonstop for two or more hours at a time, we’ll be sure to burn off at least one glass of sangria!)

Whether you’re looking ahead to a new year or simply reveling in the celebratory moment, make your birthday your time to take control and decide what you want to do to have fun, feel fit and be fabulous!

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