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Change Just One Thing

IMG_1507With summer in full swing, I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday to offer some positive reinforcements. Yes, it’s beach season.  That means bikinis, shorts, strapless dresses and tanks are everywhere. It also means people can put way too much pressure on themselves to be in “prime” condition for this season of extra exposure.

Instead of overwhelming yourself with an uber-restrictive diet or adding daunting amounts of exercise to your already stretched-too-thin schedule, I offer this advice: why not try to make ONE change that can make a healthy difference over time. Here are five ideas for you to choose from  – and there’s no time like today to get started!

1) Swap out soda or juice for water or seltzer. Cut down on unwanted sugar, calories and sodium by making the switch to good ol’ H2o. Need some flavor? Add a slice of lemon or orange to your water bottle or an individual packet of  Crystal light.
2) Cut back on the booze. Saving the frozen cocktails or wine-time for the weekend or adding one or two more “dry” nights to the work week also cuts back the unwanted sugar and calories. Flavored seltzers make for wonderful mocktails on those booze-free evenings!
3)  Scale back on the sweets. If you have a wedding, backyard barbecue or other summertime fun fest on the weekend agenda, the work week is the perfect time to save up for the treats. Curb an after-dinner sweet craving with a green apple sprinkled with some cinnamon.
4) Add a flight or two to your weekly activity. Instead of stressing over when you’ll be able to squeeze in another 60-minute group exercise class to your busy schedule, why not take the stairs at work a few days this week? If you’re a commuter, skip the escalator and take the stairs up from the underground to civilization. You can also park the car a little farther away from the entrance to your office building or the grocery store. The extra steps DO add up over time!
5) Love yourself more. Embrace you who you are and feel good about the positive choices you make everyday. Don’t worry about always following the latest trends and buy clothes that make you feel good.
The only thing left to do is get outside and enjoy a healthy Vitamin D-filled season (with sunscreen, of course!) and all the opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

My First Blog Tour

iStock_000009363193SmallI realize this is a departure from my Motivation Monday norm, but as you know, I’m a big proponent of mixing things up.

I’ve been invited to participate in a “blog tour” by writer and blogger Paula Rizzo. I guess you could call it a sort of chain letter for blogs. However, unlike the chain letters I usually ended up tossing as a kid, I thought this would be a bit more fun. I have to answer four questions about my writing process and introduce you to three bloggers who will pick up the baton next week. They’ll introduce you to another trio…and so on, and so on. Ready…set…go!

1. What am I working on?

Along with my Motivation Monday posts and other social media outreach, I’m in the infancy stage of writing a proposal for my very first book. Without giving too much away, my goal is to draw on my personal experience – including more than a few mistakes- to write an easy-to-follow blueprint for people of all ages and skill levels. On the non-fitness front, I’ve been keeping a journal since the age of 12. One day, I hope to draw from some of the events in my life to create some form of realistic fiction, but that’s down the road a piece.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

While there is no shortage of fitness experts in Cyberspace or on TV, I can’t truly relate to many of them as a 40-year-old woman. I don’t believe you have to go to injury-inducing extremes to make positive, healthy changes in your life at any age. I promote choices that people can live with for more than a few days or weeks at a time and promote finding fitness routines and diet regimens that make you feel good so you’ll stick with them for the long haul.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I’ve loved to write and I’ve loved to exercise for as long as I can remember, so bringing the two together feels natural. At the age of 40, I can honestly say I’m stronger than ever. By taking better care of myself physically during the last five years, I know I’ve also gained strength mentally and emotionally. I share my favorite workouts, foods and even some fitness faux pas in an effort to inspire others to find their own path to leading a healthy lifestyle.

4. How does my writing process work?

Each workout, each trip to the grocery store and each week can present its own inspiration. If I enjoy a particularly grueling Central Park workout or add a new item to my fridge, there’s a good chance you’ll read about it here. I also rely on the calendar to address timely topics like staying healthy through the holidays or hydrated through the summer.

Who’s On Deck…

LoriAnn LaRocco (Lori Ann LaRocco.wordpress.com) Lori Ann is one of my dearest friends and the author of three books including her most recent, “Opportunity Knocking” (Agate Publishing).  She is also the Senior Talent Producer for CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Lori Ann has used her “trillion dollar” Rolodex to gain real-world insight into business and finance. Her work, including her blog, is an inspiration for all entrepreneurs or anyone who needs a swift kick in the you-know-what to stop dreaming about what you want to do and put a real plan into action.

Lauren Muscarella (traumatoart.org/inspire/) Lauren and I met several years ago at a NASM workshop while preparing for our personal training certification exams. Along with sharing a passion for health and fitness, I soon learned Lauren lost her mother to breast cancer at a very young age. She eventually found comfort for her grief in writing a blog called MamaQuest. After receiving countless emails and letters expressing how her blog inspired others to use creativity to cope with their own losses, she wanted to do more. Lauren founded TraumatoArt.org to help young adults find their own unique path through grief using creativity, rituals and community contribution.

Stephanie d’Orsay (itrainthereforeieat.com) Stephanie is certified as an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist and has a MS in Applied Nutrition. We met in Twitterville and in addition to falling in love with the name of her blog, I appreciate her love of food and her outlook on what it means to follow a healthy lifestyle. We share a common belief that there is no one-size-fits-all diet and fitness plan and Stephanie’s blog offers an honest and uplifting approach to reaching goals and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Thanks for reading and as always, I wish you all a great week filled with tons of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Frantic Friday

Ending a Crazy Week on a Happy Note!

What a week!

I honestly haven’t felt this “off” in quite some time. There will be more about that in Monday’s post, but for now, I want to end the crazy-business-trip and edit-from-hell-themed work week on a positive note that’s also filled with gratitude.

It was during my ride to the airport Tuesday afternoon when I learned my blog was voted one of the “Top 25 Wellness Blogs” on SkinnyScoop. For those of you who don’t know, SkinnyScoop is a great website designed for a female audience looking to recommend and discover the best of everything from books and beauty essentials to parenting products.

Thanks to a couple of nominations and a few votes, I came in among the bloggers who write about fitness, healthy lifestyle and/or weight loss voted into the Top 25 during September 2012. I’m honored to be among this great list of bloggers! I’ll be sure to check out their writing and encourage you loyal readers to do the same!

Thanks to all of you for your support and for inspiring me to continue my writing, even during the rough weeks! It’s because of you that I look forward to continuing on this journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

A Healthy Business Trip

L-R: Tom Brown, Wheelchair Games Co-Founder; Trish LaBar, U.S. Army Veteran; Doug Beckley, U.S. Navy Veteran

I just wrapped up one of the best business trips I’ve been on in quite a while. I had the privilege of producing a satellite media tour for the Paralyzed Veterans of America and helped them promote the 31st National Veterans Wheelchair Games going on this week in Pittsburgh. It is the largest annual wheelchair sports event in the world and is co-presented by PVA and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

This year, there are more than 600 American veteran heroes with physical disabilities participating in 17 medal events including archery, power soccer, quad rugby, basketball and swimming. Each participant competes with athleticism and a true strength of spirit many of us will never achieve. I was proud to be a part of today’s media outreach efforts for the Games as I believe there will never be enough we can do for those who have sacrificed so much for the rest of us.

While the trip to Pittsburgh proved good for my spirits, it wasn’t too bad for my physical well-being either. Airports aren’t known for their healthy food options, but luckily, the JetBlue terminal at JFK offers more than burgers and pizza. I was able to find salad and even fresh strawberries for lunch.  Last night, our Pittsburgh studio liaison treated me to a fabulous dinner, where I was enjoyed sea bass with fresh spinach. (I did have one glass of Pinot Noir.)  I even managed to squeeze in 30 minutes on the elliptical, three sets of push ups (20 reps) and some core work on a yoga ball at the hotel’s fitness center.

So, for my fellow business travelers, here’s what I do to try to stay healthy on the road:

  • Pack healthy snacks. Even on overnight trips, I keep raw almonds and a couple of Fiber One bars in my bag. If I can’t eat for a while because I’m wrapped up in the project, or if the food options aren’t optimal, at least I have a satisfying snack to hold me over for a bit.
  • Pack workout gear.  If I find 30 minutes to spare, there’s no excuse not to go for a run, walk or quick workout in the hotel’s fitness center. (Breaking a good sweat feels especially good after sitting on a plane or train.)
  • Monitor portions. If meals are brought in for meetings or you’re going out for dinner, watch your portion sizes and perhaps choose to have a drink, but skip dessert or skip an appetizer and a drink but indulge in something sweet after your meal.

Pittsburgh Skyline

The key is to find what works for you. If you’re lucky enough to get a “natural high” from being involved in a project as rewarding as what I was a part of today, you’ll get the extra bonus of knowing you can be working and still have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

How Can I Help You Have Fun, Be Fit & Feel Fabulous?

Montauk 2010

I’m not sure where the summer is going, but here we are at the start of August.  Soon, I’ll make my last summer escape to a place I’ve been visiting every August since childhood: Montauk, NY.  August of 2011 is a bit different, however, as today also marks the two-week “anniversary” of the LauraLovesFitness kick-off.

This seems like a good time for me to take the pulse of my readers and see where you’d like things to go from here.  Basically, I want you to help me help you get what you want from reading this blog.  You’ve taken the time to visit the site, read the posts and some of you have even gone the extra mile by leaving a comment and sharing the things that work in your own life.  In order to make you want to keep coming back for more, I ask this one question: what fitness-related topic would you like to see addressed in a future post?

As you can tell from what I’ve written so far, I am a true believer that there are so many components to fitness that reach beyond the confines of a gym or your neighborhood bike trail.  Everything from our sneakers to our snack choices will affect our overall well-being.  Don’t be shy! If it’s something you’re curious about, it’s probably a topic someone else wants to know about, too.  I can’t promise I’ll have the answers immediately, but I’ll be more than happy to do a little research, ask opinions of even more experienced “fitness gurus” and let you know what I find.

Let me take this time to also thank all of you who have shown your support by signing up for an email subscription, liking my Facebook page, following me on Twitter or spreading the word about my blog. (Please keep up the good work!) I look forward to receiving your questions and suggestions for future posts so we can work together to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Fitting Fitness Into Your Vacation

Photo by Laura DeAngelis

This will be my last post for several days. Why? Because I’m getting out of the hot and steamy Big Apple for long weekend of relaxation in Newport, Rhode Island.  We all work hard, and we all need to get away now and then.  The good news is while you can leave reality behind for awhile, you don’t have to abandon your fitness regimen. If anything, a vacation gives you the opportunity to mix up your routine.  So, as a break from packing, I thought I’d offer some of my favorite ways to burn some calories while on vacation:

  • Walk, walk and walk some more!  Our hotel in Newport is about one mile from the beach, so we get some good strides heading to and from our daily hangout. Then there’s the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk, which offers such amazing scenery, you may forget you’re getting a good workout while you scramble on some rocks along the way.  Wherever you may be going, make the effort to leave the car behind and explore the town or neighboring area on foot. (Don’t forget to bring supportive footwear.)
  • If there’s a pool where you’re staying, do some daily laps.
  • Pack a Frisbee or paddle ball game to play on the beach. If there’s a beach volleyball game going on somewhere, don’t be shy – ask if you can join one of the teams.  No sand around? Find a park, claim your spot in the grass and have some fun!
  • Try something completely different.  If you’re near a lake, find out if you can rent a canoe or kayaks and paddle around for an hour or two. If you like it on your first day, you can go back for more during the duration of the trip.
  • Use the hotel’s fitness center. More and more hotels are offering some sort of workout space. Granted, it may consist of one stationary bike, one elliptical, one treadmill, some free weights and (if you’re lucky) a yoga ball.  Those options mean you can still get in some good cardio, and use the free weights as extra resistance for squats and lunges.  Then you can work the upper body with a minimum of bicep curls, lateral raises and overhead presses, and round things out with some core work.  All in the comfort of air conditioning!
  • If you’re lucky enough to be staying somewhere with a DVD player and some extra room, bring one or two of your fitness DVDs along for the trip.

Newport, RI

Whatever activity you jump on, remember to stretch the muscles you worked during that walk, canoe ride  or mean game of paddle ball.  Make sure you also stay hydrated, and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Whether or not the coming weekend allows you the opportunity to get away from it all, I wish you some time to relax and re-charge your batteries so you can approach a new week with new energy to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Why Water is King

You’ve probably heard this before: you are what you eat. But here’s the thing – you are what you drink, too! The human body is two-thirds water.  As the hot and hazy days of summer continue, here’s some timely information we all need to remember regardless of our fitness level.

Drinking adequate amounts of water has many benefits including:

  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Alleviating fluid retention
  • Distribution of nutrients and oxygen to cells and organs
  • Improvement of metabolic function
  • Decreasing appetite

Personally, I find that last point a little hard to swallow. I do my best to drink the recommended 5-7 glasses of water each day, but I don’t know how much effect it’s had on my appetite. (Anyone who knows me knows I do love to eat!) However, will say when I’m hungry and nowhere near a healthy snack, drinking a glass of water can stave off my hunger long enough to avoid eating something I’ll regret later. (Chewing gum works for me in a pinch, too.)

Now let’s look at some of the physiologic effects of what happens when you don’t consume enough water and become dehydrated:

  • Decreased blood volume
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased core temperature
  • Sodium retention
  • Decreased sweat rate

To punctuate just how important water is to the body: the body can go for a long period of time without food, but can only survive for a few days without water.

Here are the guidelines of what we should be drinking when we exercise, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):

  • Drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise. In warmer weather,  feel free to add an additional 8 – 16 oz.
  • During exercise, drink 20 to 40 oz for every hour of exercise.
  • If you exercise for more than 60 minutes, you can re-hydrate with a sports drink containing up to 8% carbohydrate to replace both fluid and dwindling muscle glycogen stores.
  • When exercising for 60 minutes or less, water is best. (My personal choice).

That last bullet brings me to an important point made by Brent Brookbush and Rick Richey, the amazing NASM instructors who taught the Personal Fitness Workshop I took back in March.  If you have just one hour to spend in the gym or running through the park, or only time for a 45-minute spin or strength training class, why would you want to put all the calories back in your body that you’re working so hard to burn?

Now, I know there are some people out there who simply can’t stand water and need some flavor.  There are plenty of zero calorie flavored water options available. In my personal opinion (which is backed by many articles I’ve read on websites ranging from WebMD to ACSM), having a flavored drink with zero calories (or 5 calories if you add one of those flavor-crystal packets to your water bottle) is better than NOT drinking anything at all.

In the end, something as simple as drinking (water!) to your health is an easy way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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