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Spring-ify Your Hydration

Easy Ways to Wow Your Water!

After a weekend escape from the concrete jungle to help my parents with some spring cleaning, I’m enjoying an extra spring in my step on this Motivation Monday courtesy of some much-needed vitamin D. It’s amazing how uncovering the patio furniture and sweeping up the leaves and other remnants of a long, hard winter can do wonders for the mind and spirit. (The bonus: tackling the first stages of a spring spruce up after a killer ILoveKickboxing class helped me burn a few extra calories so I could enjoy some of Mom’s cooking without a side of guilt!) The weekend  also marked the first time since last fall that I was able to sit outside to write a blog post. All that fresh air did wonders for my soul!

While I stayed busy helping Mom and Dad, I lost some of my usual writing time. So I hope you’ll forgive this short and sweet shot of inspiration to kick off the new work week. As we all continue shifting our routines for spring, it’s the perfect time to freshen up some of our healthy habits. That includes how we stay hydrated.

As far as I’m concerned, water remains king when it comes to healthy beverages. However, after awhile the same ol’ H20 can be more than just a little bland. Instead of reaching for calorie-loaded sports drinks, why not try these three, easy ideas to add a little “wow” to your water:

  1. Expand Your Citrus Horizons: Who says lemons should have all the fun? Add a squeeze of lime, grapefruit or even a clementine for some extra zest in your water.
  2. Chill Out: Mix in some frozen apple chunks, grapes, blueberries or strawberries for instant yum.
  3. Go green: Add slices of cucumber and a few sprigs of mint for a more savory flavor option.

Once you find your favorite flavor infusion, make a pitcher to keep in the fridge so you can have a refreshing drink at home or fill up your reusable water bottle to bring to the office and wherever your workouts take you. Remember, adding a little zest to even the healthiest of habits can help you stick with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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New Month, New Plans

Get pumped! Spring is right around the corner!

Hooray for the first Motivation Monday of March! With only 15 days until the official start of a new season, there’s no time like now to start carving out a plan to freshen up your spring fitness routine.

I understand a new season with new after-school activities and other responsibilities can make finding time to exercise a bit of a challenge.  So I offer a bit of motivation courtesy of a family of four who were part of an ILoveKickboxing class I recently took on Long Island. I was nothing less than inspired to see all of them participating in the high-intensity, sweat-filled class together. Dad did a fantastic job keeping up with his teenage son and daughter at the heavy bag while Mom offered words of encouragement and water bottles between rounds from the sidelines. I have no idea what was on the rest of their weekend agenda, but it was refreshing to see a family spend an entire hour together without one of them fixated on a smart phone or tablet. The added bonus: they were motivating each other to do something healthy.

So while you’re making plans to manage the time crunches this spring, make sure to budget at least a little quality time with the people who are important to you. In addition to making time for the kids, maybe you and your guy or gal plan a power walk together at least one day after work. Of course, you can always check for new group exercise classes you’d like to try with a friend or family member. Finally, my favorite part of the upcoming spring: is simply offers the perfect backdrop to get outside and get moving!

Remember, getting active with family and friends is just one thing to look forward to as we gear up for a new season filled with endless opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Back in Fighting Form

Ready to Re-Focus & Get Back in Action!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

Somehow today’s Motivation Monday post marks the last one for the first month in 2018. To be honest, I’m more than happy to say good-bye to January.

My repeat readers have gotten used to my candid confessions in many of these weekly installments. Today, I feel it’s time to come clean about a truth that affects even the most fanatical of fitness freaks. Sometimes we’re just not that into the whole working out and  healthy eating “thing.” That’s the state I’ve found myself in for a good part of this month.

I can’t blame just one thing for catapulting me into this particular funk. Making the five-hour-flight transition from 82-degree sunshine in Grenada to the eight-degree tundra in New York City probably had something to do with it. The frigid weather aside, it was also time to face reality and get my career goals sorted out for the year ahead. (In addition to the “Sunday Scaries,” I find I suffer from a more serious case of the “Year-Ahead Scaries” with every birthday I face.)  On a more pressing note, it was time to replace the high-calorie drinks and snacks I’d indulged in while on vacation with my normal healthy menu items. However as the cold days persisted, it was just easier to order comfort food for delivery rather than make the trek to the grocery store (though I realize we’re talking about a three- or four-block walk) to re-stock the fridge and pantry with better options.

Then there were the nonstop reminders about turning our 2018 resolutions into reality. Whether those resolutions involved exercising more often or cleaning out the closets and getting more organized, the pressure to make it all happen simply comes at you from every angle – the TV set, the pages of a favorite magazine that’s supposed to provide a brief escape from reality and of course, the stream of each and every social media feed. All the Instagram photos of six- or even eight-pack abs and “amazing diet tricks” had me scrolling through my feed a little less. For some reason, those posts made me feel “guilty” about my less-than-healthy behavior in the new year to date. Instead of inspiring me to get moving, I had simply lost my motivation to work out. When I did exercise, I definitely wasn’t putting 100 percent into the workouts.

Then about 10 days ago, one morning turned into a couple of mornings of slowly getting back into my usual groove. I stretched more and modified my moves at ILoveKickboxing and Physique57.  I started feeling better and was able to get in my normal, sweat-infused doses of exercise. I started eating smaller, cleaner meals throughout the day and didn’t pour the second glass of wine with dinner. I finally re-stocked the kitchen with my healthy go-tos: hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, veggies, berries,  brown rice and almonds. After a few days of rediscovering my healthy stride, I started to feel better. My energy level has improved, I am sleeping better and I feel more positive about the new month ahead and beyond.

I share these not-so-optimal moments from the start of 2018 in the hopes that it helps anyone who’s feeling discouraged by not “crushing” those goals for 2018 right out of the box. It’s okay. We all have bad days or even bad weeks. But every day  offers a new opportunity to start over. Be kind to yourself and don’t downplay the good things you have done for yourself so far this year. Are you drinking more water instead of sodas or other sugary drinks? Have you added five minutes or five push-ups to your exercise routine? Did you add a few healthy items to the family menu? Are you shutting your devices down a little earlier before bedtime? If you’ve done any, all of the above or made other healthy choices this month, kudos to you!

So here’s to using these last few days of January to stock up on whatever you need – from food to fitness gear – to make February and beyond a time to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Hitting the Reset Button

Jumping into 2018!

Just like that, we’ve reached the second Motivation Monday of 2018!

I hope everyone made it through the “Cyclone Bomb” that hit New York and other parts of the Northeast late last week. I don’t expect any sympathy, but I must say returning from a week of 80-degree sunshine to single-digit temperatures Saturday night was one of the harshest re-entries to reality I can remember. It’s so hard to think at this time last week I was ringing in the New Year in a totally different world.

That being said, I’m sure you can appreciate the need to keep this week’s post short and sweet as writing it is one of many items on the back-to-the-grind laundry list. And what could be simpler than admitting it’s time for me to get back on my own health and fitness wagon after taking a pretty hard fall off of it while on vacation in Grenada.

 

Calories shared with good friends never count.

While I did manage to work out, it definitely didn’t happen every day and those workouts weren’t exactly banged out with the highest of intensity. However, the mindless minutes spent dozing under the shade of a palm tree, swimming in the Caribbean sea, floating in the pool or laughing with my fiance and the friends we made during last year’s winter escape were worth every calorie consumed in the countless frozen drinks and not-so-clean meals and snacks throughout the week. (Having a soft-serve ice cream machine right next to the pool was one of the temptations I couldn’t resist.)

So now it’s time for me to re-group, re-stock the fridge with my healthy essentials and re-focus on my usual healthy lifestyle routine. After the extra rest days, I know my body is ready to attack my usual ILoveKickboxing and Physique57 classes. I’m looking forward to blending my Isagenix shakes in the morning and eating healthy fruits and veggies and lean proteins for meals and snacks throughout the day. I’m even looking forward to cutting back on the alcohol intake for awhile.

For all of you who’ve been killing those healthy goals for the New Year since last week, kudos to you! Just remember, even if you’ve had a few slips since then, don’t sweat it. Sometimes we all need to be a little bad to get back to what we know is good. I also can’t stress this point enough every January: all habits – good or bad – take at least six weeks to become part of your normal routine.

So hang in there, keep up the good work and remember one slip (or in my case, one week of not-so-healthy living!) doesn’t have to ruin your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

NEVER Stop Mixing It Up!

All Smiles After Another Kickboxing Class

On this Motivation Monday, I’m feeling a little sad. I can’t believe there’s only one week left in my favorite month of the year. Where is the summer of 2017 rushing off to in such a hurry?

Since I’m a firm believer that this is the season to savor every minute of mood-boosting daylight, I plan to keep these last couple of posts before my annual hiatus as short and sweet as possible. Today, I offer this simple reminder: variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to your fitness routine. If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage everyone to use the waning days of July to shake things up.

My mom gave me the nudge to mix things up by encouraging me to sign up for ILoveKickboxing classes at a studio near my parents’ house. It’s been five months since I started the kick-butt workouts in the city and I really missed them when I’d visit Mom and Dad for an extended period of time. I finally signed up for some classes last week and in addition to getting my punch-and-kick fix while out on Long Island, I also experienced the benefits of trying out different instructors and class styles. Even within the same workout program, no two fitness instructors are the same. That means you’re bound to enjoy some variety in everything from the music playlists to the exercise selection from the warm up right through the cool down.

Whether it’s trying a new instructor at your favorite group exercise class or moving your Tabata routine to the beach or the backyard, now’s the time to try something new. If you’ve got some outdoor time planned with family or friends, go ahead and toss a football, Frisbee or paddles and a rubber ball in your bag for a game or two. There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to burn a few calories before enjoying those summer cocktails and barbecue favorites.

The great news is there’s still plenty of time left in the season to mix things up to the max and continue your quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Stay Safe & Keep Your Cool!

As we kick off a week filled with high temperatures and humidity, I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday to remind everyone how to recognize heat-related illnesses. Sometimes water, electrolytes, sunscreen and a good hat aren’t enough to prevent an emergency – especially if you’re exercising outdoors.

As someone who always sweats, these dog days of summer in New York City (and the rest of the concrete jungles across the country) can make being away from the air conditioning unbearable after just a few minutes. If you catch me coming out of the subway or leaving an ILoveKickboxing or Physique57 class, no doubt you’ll think I just stepped out of a sauna.

Here are some timely reminders if you or someone you’re start feeling out of sorts in the heat:

Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs or abdominal region, that could be a signal that a more serious emergency is imminent.

What to do: If you experience heat cramps, stop exercising immediately. Find some shade or move indoors where it’s cool and drink water.

Heat exhaustion: This is more severe than heat cramps, and can occur when you’ve been exercising strenuously for a long period of time in extreme heat or humidity. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Moist, pale, or cool skin
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Nausea
  • Weak pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen all tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels, but not to the point of shivering. Also, be sure to get some cool water into your system.

Heat stroke: This is the most severe heat emergency and usually happens when signs of heat exhaustion go unchecked.  In this situation, dangerously high internal temperatures will cause your body’s vital systems to fail.  Signs and symptoms include:

  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Little or no perspiration
  • Weakness
  • Rapid pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels. If you can find them, you can also put ice packs under the armpits and groin area.

Now that we’ve identified the emergencies, here are a few reminders on how to keep them from happening in the first place:

  • Try to exercise outdoors before 9 am and after 6 pm.
  • Stay hydrated! Basic guidelines call for you to drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise, but you can drink an additional eight to 16 oz  if you’re exercising in warmer weather. At this time of year, you’ll never find me leaving the house without two things: my refillable Avon39 water bottle and a bottle of BFit Labs electrolyte sprays. My repeat readers will know I’ve been using the zero-calorie, zero sugar, gluten-free sprays for a couple of years now and I can honestly say I have more energy and fewer muscle cramps during my workouts. They also help me feel less sluggish on the sultry summer days.  If you want more information or are interested in giving them a try, just click here.
  • If you have cardiovascular or circulatory problems and are taking medication, always check with your doctor before adding any outdoor activity to your routine.

I leave you with two important tips:

  • Always call 911 in an emergency.
  • Listen to your body. It knows when something’s wrong.

Of course, I encourage everyone to enjoy plenty of outdoor fun this summer. Just remember to use a little extra care so you can stay safe while you move ahead with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Do Your Own Thing

Knock Out Self Doubt!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

Blame it on a super insane work week followed by a lazy weekend which included Palm Sunday, but here you have you have one of my shortest Motivation Monday posts in recent memory.

This shot of inspiration comes to you courtesy of my love for group exercise classes, namely Physique57 and ILoveKickboxing. No matter how hard a workout may seem, the key is to always do your thing. Forget what the person next to you is doing and focus on your own pace, your own form and your own breathing. Finding that inner focus not only insures you’re going to get to the most out of your exercise session, it also allows you block out some of the noise that we’re all bombarded with day after day. That kind of concentration can make the mental part of your workout that much more intense and the workout that much more rewarding when you make it to the finish.

For me, there’s nothing like being in a kickboxing class working one of the heavy bags surrounded by the sounds of punches and kicks against the canvas. However, even lifetime fitness fanatics aren’t immune to self-doubt at the gym. Sometimes, I find myself wondering: Am I hitting as hard as the warrior next to me? Are my kicks making the same “boom” on impact? Then with one solid punch, I put the focus on my workout and forget about the rest of the room.

Exercise is personal. The idea is to just keep moving and do what you can do. If you’re not racing through a set of mountain climbers as fast as the person next to you, don’t sweat it. The key is you’re moving, you’re sweating and you’re doing your pounding heart and your sweaty body some serious good. At the end of your workout session, only one thing matters: do you feel better than when you started?

Wherever and whenever you find the time to workout, remember your mind has the power to keep it a judgement free zone. With spring finally in bloom, take advantage of a new season of group exercise schedules and opportunities to take the activity outside. Find what works for you and you’ll be amazed how easy it is to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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