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Pumpkin Power!

pumpkinsPumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin beer, pumpkin ravioli…it seems everywhere you go, pumpkin is on the menu. I look forward to a big slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving (which is surprisingly not too far away), but it turns out there are several good reasons to enjoy pumpkin more than once a year!

On this Motivation Monday, I offer just a few of the health perks found in fall’s signature squash:

  • Post-Workout Power!  You’ve probably heard the rave reviews for bananas as a natural source of energy. However, one cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient potassium with 564 milligrams compared to a banana’s 422. A little extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.
  • Good for Your Baby Blues…and Browns, Greens and Hazels, too!:  One cup of mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin. Also, pumpkin is full of carotenoids, a fancy name for the compounds that create its orange color including Beta carotene, which has been linked to eye protection.
  • Keep Your Appetite in Check! This often forgotten source of fiber packs three grams in a one-cup serving with only 49 calories. Countless studies show a fiber-rich diet can help you stay full longer so you eat more sensibly throughout the day.

So, while it’s always a good idea to enjoy the pumpkin pie in moderation, there’s no reason not to indulge in some of the other healthy options provided by this seasonal favorite to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous !

Small Victories

VictoryOn this Motivation Monday, I hope to quash some of the negativity that tries to sabotage your plans on the windy road to health and wellness.

Monday has the unfortunate stigma of being the least favorite day of the week. However, it’s also the springboard allowing us to start fresh on so many levels. First and foremost, it’s time to forget what didn’t happen last week. Maybe you didn’t get to the gym as many times as you planned. Don’t sweat it. Instead, celebrate the fact that you did get there at some point. Even if you didn’t, pat yourself on the back for the times you:

  • Took the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Added a few more steps to walk from the parking lot to your office building by parking the car further from the entrance
  • Carried some extra bundles and/or your kid up the stairs without stopping to rest

The same goes for eating. Okay, so you had a little more wine than you wanted over the weekend. However, you ordered the grilled fish instead of a cheese-covered entrée to go with that wine. That’s a win. Maybe you indulged in dessert, but did you share it? If so, you found a way to cut down on some of the decadent calories. Remember, healthy habits take time to take root in our often all-too comfortable routines. So instead of beating yourself for what you didn’t do, feel empowered by the better decisions you did make.

Finally, don’t be shy about rewarding yourself for those little victories. Perhaps you set a goal to stay away from the wine this work week and make a date to enjoy an extra good glass with a gal pal next weekend. That way, you get to savor the flavor and enjoy the wonderful wellness booster known as laughter and good conversation. And what better way to reward yourself for making it to one extra group exercise class than with a new tank top or other fun workout wear?

Remember, just like other good deeds, taking care of your body and your mind should be recognized and rewarded. Celebrate your small victories because before you know it, they’ll add up to healthy lifestyle changes in the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Five Dos & Don’ts for Healthy Living

Smile & Keep It Simple! Photo by Leslie Hassler

Smile & Keep It Simple!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

On this particular Motivation Monday, I feel the need to keep things as simple as possible.

After a four-day mini-marathon helping my parents start cleaning out the house they’ve lived in for the past 35 years and my mom’s birthday, my muscles and my brain are just a bit fried. So, for the sake of everyone facing a manic Monday, I thought I’d offer some basic elements for how I keep my healthy lifestyle in check.

Here are my top five dos and don’t for healthy living:

1) DON’T skip meals for an entire day in anticipation of a big event at night. DO eat small, sensible meals every few hours before the celebration so your blood sugar levels stay consistent and you don’t over-do-it once you arrive. One hour before the party, try to have a satisfying snack with some protein. My go-to: string cheese and a couple of clementines or an apple.

2) DON’T sabotage all your efforts at the gym by drinking sugary drinks while you workout. Unless you’re running up and down a court or field for 90 minutes or more, stick with water to stay hydrated. Can’t stand plain water? DO feel free to add a drop or packet of zero-calorie flavor crystals to your water bottle or opt for no-calorie versions of the popular sports drinks.

3) DON’T go to the gym when you have symptoms of something beyond the sniffles. If you have a serious cough or stomach issues, do everyone a favor and skip the workout and stay home. DO, however, maintain a consistent exercise schedule with a combination of cardio and strength training to help boost your immune system and fight off the bugs when they try to bring you down.

4) DON’T let exercise become an obsession. Pain beyond the typical aches and pains following a tough workout or extreme fatigue are warning signs that it’s time to rest! DO take at least one rest day each week to let your muscles recover and give your entire body a re-charge.

5)DON’T skimp on sleep. Many people fail to realize that exercise, healthy eating and getting the proper rest are all necessary for staying on top of your game. DO wrap up your workout at least two hours before bedtime and stop texting, emailing and all your other social-media activity at least 30 minutes before lights out.

Remember, sometimes keeping things simple is the best way to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Time to Get Back on Track

Ready to Rock and Roll Again!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

It’s really been a strange couple of weeks.

Two weeks ago at this time, we were bracing for Hurricane Sandy here in the New York area. The clean up and recovery continues and will continue into the unforeseeable future. While reading this week’s People over the weekend, it was difficult to grasp that the pictures and stories of devastation originated in towns only miles from where I sit and write this post. My parents are supposed to have power restored today. While their being in the dark and without heat hasn’t been as severe as the other horror stories I’ve heard, it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve worried about them.

As I hear more and more stories about people coming together to donate clothing and supplies or volunteer their time to help with clean-up efforts or simply be there for people affected by the storm, I’m reminded of and moved by the strength of the human spirit. So many people in so many parts of our country have suffered at the hands of Mother Nature or people who’ve wanted to do us harm. Somehow, we rebuild and we go on.

I know this sounds ridiculous, but it was while I chopped vegetables and prepped other items for the week ahead when the realization of just how strong we can be as a community gave my own spirit a swift kick in the you-know-what. I needed it. I’ve been relying on a few too many comfort foods and glasses of wine to wind down after watching news coverage of Sandy’s aftermath and also cope with the added worries about my parents. Also, I hate to admit it, but I’ve even been slacking at the gym. While I’m a firm believer in doing some sort of activity is better than no activity at all, if you’re looking for results, you’ve got to make those moves count.

So, I kick off the new week with new energy to stay disciplined and lose the few pounds I know I’ve added to my waistline. No more bowls of cereal or having that second serving of almonds while watching the little TV I sneak in some nights before bed. No more skipping the weight circuit because “I can always do it tomorrow.” It helps that I have a friend’s wedding coming up in a few weeks. Since I have my dress picked out for the occasion and knowing I want to feel as comfortable as I can in it, I’ll have a little extra incentive to avoid the cookie jar in our office break room and get to the gym even after a long day.

Wherever you are on your health and fitness track, I invite you to join me on this Motivation Monday and assess how things are going. Remember, even fitness lovers like me need to re-group and re-boot once in a while. So here’s to a new focus, new week and new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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