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Healthy Business Travel Tips

Packing Up Some
Healthy Essentials

There was a lot of buzz in the LinkedIn world recently surrounding a Harvard Business Review story that examined the effects of business travel on a person’s health. It didn’t surprise me to read the data showed a direct relationship between the frequency of business travel and an array of physical and behavioral health risks.

Since you’re reading this Motivation Monday post as I kick off a week on the road hosting for the Health Channel in Miami, I thought it was a good time to offer some of my healthy survival tips when work takes me away from my favorite fitness classes and healthy fridge:

Book a Fitness-Friendly Hotel: Even if it’s not as well-equipped as your favorite gym at home, most hotels offer at least some forms of cardio equipment, free weights and maybe even a stability ball or two. If you do get stuck in a hotel that doesn’t have even a tiny fitness center (and I really hope you don’t!) here are some exercises you can do in your room that require no equipment at all:

Don’t Forget the Workout Wear: Whether you hit the hotel fitness center or bang out some burpees in your room, gym shorts, yoga pants, a couple of sports bra and pairs of socks all roll up into practically noting in a suitcase, even if it’s carry-on. So there’s no excuse not to take them along on the trip.

Pack Healthy Snacks: Along with the workout gear, you’ll always find a few small bags of raw almonds, and enough KIND snack bars and Isagenix IsaLean shake packets to last the duration of the trip in my suitcase. No matter how long I’m on location, I know I can start the day with a nutritious shake and when hunger hits later, I’m armed with good snack options.

Make Smart Choices: As someone used to 2am wake up calls for a 4am start and wrapping 16 hours later, I know how tempting it can be to go a little crazy with food as a “reward” for a job well done. While there’s no reason not to treat yourself, keep track of your portion sizes and perhaps choose to have a cocktail, but skip dessert; or skip an appetizer and a drink but indulge in something sweet after your meal. If you have to attend a client dinner or lunch, try the ever-other-drink rule for the duration of the meal. Start with a glass of wine or cocktail and then make your next drink water or seltzer. This way if you make it to the third drink, it’s only your second libation instead of a third.

I realize I’m a mini-business traveler compared to the true “road warriors” like my fiancé who has clocked hundreds of thousands of airline miles in his lifetime thanks to work. I do understand, however, how hard it is to feel “normal” again after just a few days on the road, let alone a week or more at a time. So the struggle is definitely real. But sometimes a little planning and adding a few healthy items to your suitcase for that time on the road is all you need to do your best to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
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New Tricks, New Treats

Loved meeting these fun, fab and fierce fitness chicks!

One of the perks of getting my NASM and AFAA certifications several years ago is that it “forces” me to get a certain number of credits every couple of years to keep those fitness certifications current. This year, I’m beyond pumped those necessary credits led me to find the Everlast Striking Certification Workshop: level 1.

As you repeat readers may recall, I was lucky enough to discover the rush provided by muay thai kickboxing not long after birthday in 2017. I’m still not quite sure how I dealt with the stress of living in New York and life in general for 43 years before discovering the physical and mental rush that could be experienced thanks to kicking and punching a heavy bag! (Talk about inexpensive therapy!) After a full Sunday in the Everlast workshop lead by fitness guru Aaron Drogoszewski, not only did I acquire the credits needed to maintain my fitness certifications, I learned even more about the techniques that have become a huge part of maintaining my physical and mental strength for the past 16 months.

Thanks to Aaron Drogoszewski for an amazing workshop!

What was extra fun about the workshop is that in addition to learning how to execute the six basic punches (jab, cross, hooks and upper cuts) along with the roundhouse kick with more accuracy and efficiency, we also learned how to cue and coach others through the moves. It was fun – and also one heck of a workout – to work with a partner and switch roles between trainee and trainer. The bottom line is there’s nothing like gaining extra knowledge from the experts to help take your game – whatever that may be – to the next level. I look forward to sharing some of the techniques with friends looking to add something new to their fitness routine.

In addition to Aaron’s instruction and motivation from my new fitfam friends, I couldn’t have made it through the day without the right fuel. Lucky for me, I received a “goodie box” of new KIND protein bars just in time for the workshop. (I did some spokesperson work for KIND a couple of years ago, and I was thrilled the team remembered me.) Not only did the double dark chocolate nut bar taste great and keep me satisfied with its 12 grams of protein, I love the fact that the bars contain no artificial sweeteners and have a low glycemic index. (They’re also gluten free!) I know I’ll be keeping one or two of these bars in my gym bag or purse at all times so I don’t get tempted by the not-so-healthy vending machine options when hunger hits.

So on this Motivation Monday, remember this: you’re never too much of an expert to get some new moves and new snack ideas to help you keep you on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Putting a Healthy Twist on Seasonal Snacks

FootballThis Motivation Monday is all about one of my favorite food groups: snacks!

I classify snacks in two groups:

  1. The healthy ones you choose throughout the day to keep you body fueled and your blood levels at an even keel and
  2. The not-so-healthy ones you enjoy at a party or on those rare occasions you get to chill out on the couch.

As a strong believer in the power of eating several small meals throughout the day, I’m always on the lookout for healthy snack options. My go-tos include hard-boiled eggs, raw almonds, green apples, fat-free plain Greek yogurt and KIND bars. If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile, you also know I also enjoy my treats, especially when I can share them with friends and family. Which brings me to one of the biggest reasons people get together in the fall: football!

If your idea of “Sunday Funday” includes sporting your team’s jersey, sipping a few beers and savoring some indulgences, here are three ideas to enjoy those good times without the side serving of guilt:

  1. Spice Up Your Popcorn: Microwave popcorn has always been one of my favorite lo-cal snacks. To make it more fun for game day, try adding some chili powder, pepper or paprika to the bag or bowl. (Just be sure to put some muscle into it and shake well!)
  2. Healthy chili: How would you like to enjoy a hearty, hot bowl of chili packed with only 75 calories and 1. 5 grams of fat? It’s possible, thanks to this Weight Watchers “one-point chili” recipe my mom introduced me to years ago. Click here for the easy recipe. Since I’m not a big cook, I like to make a big batch so I can freeze some and nuke it later.
  3. A Better Way to Dip – Swap out breads and chips for crunchy, healthy celery or carrot sticks and dip those veggies into a whole new kind of creaminess. Chobani’s Meze Dips have just 25 calories and one gram of fat per serving. (Traditional French onions dips pack five or more grams of fat and at least 60 calories per serving.) With flavors like Roasted Red Pepper, Three Pepper Salsa and Smoked Onion Parmesan, there’s a yummy fix for all your savory cravings. The following are some of Chobani’s tasty and colorful alternatives to those traditional chip-and-dip days:

chobanipost

So, what’s YOUR favorite healthy football or other seasonal snack? Remember, if you do go a little overboard on Sunday Funday or any other day of the week – don’t sweat it. Sometimes you have to be a little bad to get back to the good on this never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Sticking With Those Healthy Resolutions!

iStock_000018191976XSmallThree weeks into the New Year and here we are celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you’re lucky enough to be enjoying a long weekend, be sure to make every second count!

On this Motivation Monday, I want to offer a boost to anyone struggling to stick with those healthy resolutions. Remember, it takes at least six weeks for a habit – good or bad – to become routine. So be patient with yourself and keep taking things one day at a time. I hope the video below also offers some ideas to make this your healthiest year yet! Thanks to KIND Snacks, Oscillococcinum and S+ by ResMed for the opportunity to represent their brands and to the team at Vidicom for a great production day.

Here’s to another great week ahead filled with lots of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Big Goals & Baby Steps

VictoryWay to go – you made it to the second Motivation Monday of 2016! So, how was your first week of the New Year?

I received many inspiring messages during the week from friends around the country telling me about their health and fitness goals for 2016. Not surprisingly, the majority of those goals had to do with losing weight.

Some had a specific target in mind for shedding those pounds. Karen, for example, wants to be 25 pounds lighter by June in time for her first cruise. With healthy weight loss clocking in at around two pounds per week, she’s set a realistic goal for a six-month period. And that’s the key – keeping it real.

So I thought this would be the perfect time to offer some tips on how to keep reality in check and not feel overwhelmed by your goals.

  1. Drop and give me a plank! You’re sticking to that resolution to add 10 minutes of extra time to your daily walk. Good for you! Now drop and give me some planks to attack your core strength. Click here for a refresher video on how to add planks and other full-body exercises to your routine in just four minutes thanks to Tabata training.
  2. Start your day with the right fuel. I believe in the power of a healthy breakfast. Aim for a “clean” meal of scrambled eggs with a slice of toasted Ezekiel or other sprouted bread. On the run? Grab a hard-boiled egg or non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Extra Tip: adding fresh fruit to your yogurt is a lower-sugar option to the flavored varieties. These protein-packed options will keep you full longer than starchy, sugary items like frozen waffles or pancakes.
  3. Never leave home without healthy snacks. There’s nothing worse than going grocery shopping with a rumbling stomach or being greeted at the shopping mall with the scent of cinnamon invading your nostrils from  from the food court. What will you find in my bag? I love KIND snacks, especially the bars. They contain no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols and provide a balanced combination of healthy fats, protein and complex carbs. The bonus? They’re yummy!
  4. Out of sight, out of mind. Yes, I’m all about moderation. But I also have a hard time not going overboard when certain temptations are lurking in my kitchen cabinets. That’s why I don’t keep things like cookies or candy in the house. I freely admit I’m incapable of eating just one cookie or one piece of chocolate. I envy those who can. If you’re like me, then seriously, just don’t buy it. For the parents out there, it’s never too early to get your kids started on healthy habits. Push the apple slices and peanut butter snacks on a normal basis and save the treats for special occasions.
  5. Steer clear of quick fixes. Any diet plan that’s too restrictive is bound to backfire. I would never tell someone not to enjoy their favorite indulgence every now and then. The key is training yourself to monitor portions and make whole food choices. If you don’t, once the juice cleanse or shake-diet is over and done with and you reintroduce real food into your life, you risk going right back to consuming too many calories and the weight can creep right back.

Remember, this is NOT a sprint. Healthy choices take time to develop into habits, and those habits will continue to become a part of lifelong marathon. Celebrate each and every healthy choice you make and active step that you take as part of your effort to stay the course on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Back to School, Back to YOU!

A New Month of Opportunities Awaits!

A New Month of Opportunities Awaits!

Well here we are one week into September of 2014. My New York City neighborhood is back to its normal frenetic pace. The kids are back in school and everyone who vacationed outside the concrete jungle are back from their summer hideaways. That means the gyms are crowded again, too. So I figured I’d use this Motivation Monday to remind everyone this is the perfect time to incorporate some fitness into your back-to-reality routine.

Parents are helping their kids deal with new teachers, new schedules and after-school activities. If you’re like me and you don’t have kids, the speed of everyday living tends to amp up a notch thanks to the end of summer Fridays and the beginning of new projects and deadlines. The good news is fitting some fitness into your September routine doesn’t have to be impossible.

Here are some tips to make things a little less overwhelming:

  • Set a Time & Put It In Writing: If you drive your kids to school or your spouse to the train station, figure out if there’s time immediately following a drop-off or right before a pick-up for a workout. You could hit the gym for a group exercise class, drive a few more blocks to the park for a run or meet a fitness friend for a brisk walk or game of tennis. Listing the activity in your smart phone calendar or on the daily to do-list stuck to the fridge can offer a visual boost to keep that workout on schedule.
  • Ten Minutes of Something is Better than Nothing!  As time seems to grow more precious each day, there are plenty of workouts geared toward gaining maximum results in less time.  Click here for a refresher on my “Tear-It-Up-in-Ten Circuit” as featured recently on the Working Woman Report. (Don’t forget to tune in for a new episode tonight at 8:30 pm NYCLife Channel, which is either 25 or 22 depending on your provider.)
  • “Fall” Into Healthy Eating Habits: If you pack lunch for the kiddies, why not add  just a few minutes to the prep time and make some healthy snacks or meals for yourself? I spend about 30 minutes every Sunday slicing and dicing veggies including peppers, celery sticks and carrots and then pack them in reusable containers or individual plastic bags. I can grab a portion anytime as a healthy snack or as a side to a turkey sandwich. Some of my other favorite on-the-go eats include almonds, low-fat string cheese and non-fat plain Greek yogurt.
  • Wardrobe Prep If you plan to exercise first thing in the morning, put your workout wear in the bathroom the night before. It’s usually the first room we visit after we wake up, so if your clothes are staring you in the face, it may be harder to ditch the workout. If you’re exercising after work, pack your gym bag the night before and leave it by the door to grab on your way out. (And don’t forget to grab one of your prepped snacks for some healthy fuel, too!)

Finally, it’s important to remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. Getting fitness on your schedule and healthy foods into your fridge are two big steps toward a healthier  you. If you indulged in more ice cream or margaritas than you planned over the summer, don’t sweat it. It’s a new month, a new season is coming and there will be plenty of chances to get your butt in gear so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

My Summertime Survival Tools

As you can probably tell from my last few posts, I’m very excited about the arrival of my favorite season. Since this Motivation Monday falls just five days before the start of the summer, I thought I’d offer a quick hit list of some of my seasonal fitness survival tools:

iStock_000010754376Small1)Re-usable water bottle:  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

2) Moisture-wicking clothing: Sometimes the gear I wear makes all the difference between sweating it out and throwing in the towel.

3) Portable / non-perishable snacks: My new favorite are KIND protein bars, but some old stand-bys include bananas, apples and almonds. If you’re packing a cooler for the beach, watermelon, pineapple and frozen grapes are a few of my picks for refreshing sweet treats.

4) Jump rope: My favorite portable workout tool of all time! Winds up and fits in any backpack and can be used anywhere from the park to the beach.

5) New kicks: You may recall I get a new pair of cross trainers twice a year. Since I tend to ask Santa to leave one pair under the tree for me on Christmas Day, this is the time of year I look for the next pair that I can start wearing down.

photo-96) Sunscreen: I’m the first to admit I did a ton of damage to myself as a sun worshipper in my teens and 20s. After developing Rosacea in my 30s, I’m a lot better of protecting my skin from harm.  The sensitive skin on my face does well with a lightweight fluid called Athelios from LaRoche-Posay. I also like the sheer touch formulas by Hawaiian Tropic and I’ve heard great things about the Banana Boat sports sunscreen line.

7) Good tunes:  I simply cannot get into my workout without some heart-pounding beats. Here are the five songs currently giving me the biggest boost for cardio, Tabatas and weight training (some are old, some are new):

  • images“Truly Madly Deeply (Thomas Gold Radio Edit)” – Cascada
  • “Crank It Up” – David Guetta & Akon
  • “Can’t Hold Us (featuring Ray Dalton)” – Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis
  • “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” – Fall Out Boy
  • “Stay Hungry” – Twisted Sister

Now bring on the start of summer 2013 and plenty of sun-filled days so we can all have fun, be fit and feel fabulous right through Labor Day!

Make-a-Plan Monday

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You can do it! Stick with it!

As we kick off the first full work week of 2013, we’re also at the beginning of week two for anyone with big plans to get their health and fitness routine on the right track this year. I send big kudos to anyone who’s made it this far and hope this “Motivation Monday” post inspires you to keep going!

For anyone who’s feeling a little discouraged or frustrated – hang in there! If you’re saying, “Laura, I’ve gone to the gym every day since January 1st and I haven’t had one cupcake or even one glass of wine, but I don’t see the hint of a six-pack yet,” consider this your reality check. Slow and steady wins the race and when it comes to running down your health and fitness goals, well, it’s a bit more like a lifelong marathon. It’s important to remember it takes six weeks for anything to become a habit. So if you’re not completely moved by a post-workout endorphin rush or haven’t figured out which cardio program is the right one for you yet, don’t sweat it! Stick with it and focus on the positives you have experienced since making some healthy changes. Perhaps it’s a clearer mind after a busy day at work or not feeling as winded after climbing a flight of stairs. Remember, you CAN do this!

Along with the shot of motivation, I also wanted to stress an important component to keeping your healthy eating goals in check. While I’m not a registered dietitian or licensed nutritionist, I’m always happy to share some of my healthy-eating “tricks.” Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned is that a little planning goes a long way.

A little prep goes a long way!

A little prep goes a long way!

I spent 40 minutes yesterday chopping fruits and veggies so I have no excuse not to get my daily servings in all week. I have grab-bags and containers filled with cherry tomatoes, red and yellow pepper strips and carrots. I also have tubs of diced strawberries, grapes and a big bag of clementines. (My favorite brand is “Cuties,” they’re sweet, easy to peel and have no seeds.) Having these go-to snacks takes the guess-work out of deciding what to eat with my turkey on whole-wheat sandwich or when I  need my late afternoon pick-me-up at the office. Also, on those days I get home after work and the gym, grabbing a container of raw veggies and munching on them while I grill a tilapia filet or chicken breast is a lot better than inhaling a handful of crackers to stave off the rumblings in my stomach.

photo-18

A peek inside the LauraLovesFitness fridge

When you’re ready to re-stock your fridge again, here are some of the items you’ll always find in mine:

  • Non-fat plain Greek yogurt (Which can easily be jazzed up with sliced strawberries, sliced banana and even a handful of almonds. It’s a great base for an easy breakfast or protein-packed snack.)
  • Low-fat string cheese
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Red, yellow and/or orange peppers
  • Baby carrots
  • Clementines or other citrus
  • Fat-free salsa
  • Egg whites or egg beaters
  • Mustard (my favorite zero-fat, low-calorie condiment)

The last item I’d encourage you to prep ahead of time is a gym bag. Having your workout wear with you at all times kills the possibility of using the “I-don’t-have-my-gym clothes-with-me” excuse.

Remember, the habits and routines you develop now can make an impact long after January is over. Here’s to a great week ahead filled with new enthusiasm to stick to your guns and do all you can to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Workout Wednesday: Business Trip Edition

I had the whole hotel fitness center to myself on my recent business trip to Iowa City!

Greetings from Orlando!

As you read this first Workout Wednesday installment for October 2012, I’m either prepping for or in the midst of producing another shoot. Since this marks the second consecutive week I’ve traveled for work and have another trip in another city soon following this one, I thought it was the perfect time to share the basic survival tip that keeps my health and fitness routine in check while I’m on the road. It’s all about what you toss in your suitcase.

Along with being sure I have my production tools and TSA-size-approved plastic bag of toiletries, I always take a few extra minutes to throw in the following essentials to keep hunger and unhealthy snacking in check. The key is having one for each day of the trip:

  • Almonds: Lucky for me Trader Joe’s takes the guesswork out of counting out almonds for a proper serving size by selling the “Just a Handful” snack-pack. Having the correct serving size also prevents me from buying the jumbo bag at the airport and loading up on too many calories in one snack session.
  • Fiber One bars: I’m a big fan of the Chocolate & Oats variety.
  • Gym clothes: A pair of Under Armour gym shorts, t-shirt, sports bra and a couple of extra pairs of socks take up virtually no room in a suitcase, even if it’s a carry-on. I usually travel wearing my cross trainers to travel and pack my “cute” shoes. (It’s the best way to stay comfortable during flight delays, too!)

The few snacks provide me with no excuse to reach for something unhealthy if too much time goes by between meals thanks to a long production schedule. Also, getting up early enough to make sure I eat a healthy breakfast before the work begins is also crucial to making sure I have energy and remain focused on my work.

Remember, whether you’re packing for a quick business trip or overnight weekend escape, packing a few healthy essentials can help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous – no matter where the road takes you!

Vacation & Food Choices

Saving calories for those frozen drinks?

Who says you can’t go on vacation and make smart food choices?

If you’re soaking up what’s left of summer with a getaway that lasts a weekend or longer, you can have fun and not throw all the hard work you do at home out the window home!

Here are a few easy tips to help that help me make the most of my getaways:

  • Breakfast: First of all – don’t skip it! It’s pretty common to be able to order egg whites almost anywhere these days. Instead of loading up on pastries or other sweet starts, try a veggie egg-white omelette and fresh fruit. However, if you simply cannot resist the chocolate croissant calling to you from the buffet or bakery shelf, go ahead and have one. (Better than scarfing down three tomorrow morning when they’re calling to you again, right?) Speaking of buffets, fill your plate with fruit first so there’s not as much room for the bacon, home fries or other high-cal, high-fat items in the spread.
  • Lunch: You also shouldn’t skip lunch in anticipation of a big dinner. One of the biggest and most common mistakes people make is fasting all day before a “special” dinner later.  This is a surefire way to sabotage any effort you’ve made to not overdo it. Why? Because by the time you sit down for what would have been a “big” meal, your hunger can make it colossal. If the only options at your vacation spot are burgers, hot dogs and fried foods, share something with someone. If you can “stock up” on any fruits from breakfast to snack on during the day (e.g. bananas, apples) that can help make lunch a little healthier, too.
  • Dinner: Go for the fresh, seasonal specials like seafood with veggies. Not only will the catch taste great, but you can spend the extra calories on the wine or cocktail(s) you’ve been looking forward to all day!
  • Dessert: Well, why not? You’re on vacation! I won’t lie, I eat dessert pretty much every day while I’m on vacation. If I’m lucky, someone might split it with me. If not, it’s just the extra motivation I need to make sure I keep my workouts going while I’m away.
  • Snacking: If you can, pack a few “safe” non-perishable go-tos like raw almonds or high fiber cereal bars. (I always have a few Fiber One bars in my bag.) If you’re going somewhere with a fridge, make a stop at a local farmer’s market or grocery store for some fresh fruits and veggies including carrot and celery sticks, berries, bananas and tangerines.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated – preferably with water – and keep moving! Whether you’re spending some time by a beach, pool, lake, campground or someone else’s backyard, these are all perfect spots for a game of tag, volleyball or paddle ball.

Whatever you still have in store for the summer, make the most of it and remember: it is possible to go on vacation, enjoy some good food and still have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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