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Hello, July!

Yesterday should have been the beginning of my favorite month of the year. Despite the slow re-opening of businesses and activities here in New York, we are nowhere near pre-Coronavirus life. The city streets and scenes are very different from the ones I fell in love with when I arrived in 2008. And being my normal, candid self, I still find find these days to be a little scary.

Many businesses remain shuttered, and who knows how many will remain closed for good. Broadway will remain dark until the New Year. The New York City Marathon is officially cancelled. Beaches are open at half capacity, but the last time I visited my “happy place,” I was quite alarmed at the amount of large groups I saw ignoring social distancing and sharing everything from beach blankets to beer cans. Finally, and perhaps a huge source of extra anxiety is the fact that gyms remain closed. Despite my best efforts, my new running hobby has yet to give me the same stress release I experience when punching a heavy bag or lifting weights.

Meanwhile, anger over racism and socioeconomic injustice has reached a boiling point. People are enraged, scared and beyond restless after months of being shut in. And super close to home, my mom continues her slow yet steady recovery from open heart surgery while my Dad continues to grapple with his own health issues. Because of their age and vulnerability, I worry that one wrong move on my end could make them sick with a virus that’s still killing people every day. It’s no wonder I’m struggling with my own new health issue: insomnia.

However, it IS July. So I tell myself to snap out of it, turn the page and use whatever vitamin D therapy I can to focus on the brighter times ahead. I will keep the power walks and quasi-runs going to give my mind and body some sort of endorphin boost. I’ll keep praying. And I’ll remind myself of the the good that does exist in this upside-down world. Like the fact that my dear childhood friend married the love of her life last week at the Church we grew up in, masks and all. Then there’s the selfless goodness seen in the kind and compassionate eyes of the doctors, nurses and aides who took such good care of my mom during her seven-day stay in the hospital. Last but certainly not least, I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by love during moments with my husband or my parents in person – and the virtual hugs I get from family and friends via emails, texts or phone calls.

Thank you for still being here to read my extremely random thoughts during these past few months. I hope you and your loved ones continue to stay safe and healthy. As we head into a Fourth of July weekend like none before, I wish you peace, love and whatever joy you can find to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Smart Summer Sizzle

Happy Birthday, USA!

Nothing screams summer holiday celebration quite like a BBQ. Whether you’re firing up your own grill or the guest at a backyard, beach or poolside party, the good news is there are ways to enjoy the food and fun and not hate yourself tomorrow.

Here’s my list of simple tips to help you sail through this year’s 4th of July bash, and any other party that pops up this summer:

  • Get Moving! A 7:30 am holiday workout has become part of my prep for one of my best friend’s annual 4th of July pool party. Riding the endorphin rush all the way to the party keeps me from negating my hard work by heading straight for the heavy foods. If I do go a little overboard (and I admit, I usually do), it helps knowing I burned some serious pre-splurge calories. However, if you’re the type who’ll use a pre-party workout as a license to go hog wild, adding some time to tomorrow’s workout may be a safer bet.
  • Do NOT arrive hungry! This rule applies to any party at any time of the year, along with happy hour or a late dinner out. Eat as you normally would before heading to the party. Make an effort to have several servings of fruits and veggies in case there aren’t many to choose from among the burgers,hot dogs and mayo-rich salads. If you find your stomach is rumbling as you’re headed out the door, grab a piece of fruit or serving of almonds for the trip.
  • Bring Some Healthy Grub! Be the health-conscious guest who shows up carrying veggie crudite with hummus or a fruit salad with non-fat Greek yogurt as a dip. If you’re great in the kitchen (unlike me!) you can even do something creative like scoop out the inside of a watermelon and then use the shell as a bowl for the fruit salad. For a dessert, why not bring a tray of individual servings of red and blue jello as non-alcoholic shots? Speaking of booze, don’t be shy about bringing lo-cal margarita mix or bottles of seltzer and diet sodas, including tonic water, to mix with vodka, gin or rum.
  • Follow the Every-Other-Drink Rule! This is one of my favorite tricks for any social event. Have a beer, glass of wine or cocktail and then for your second beverage, switch to water or another non-alcoholic non-sugary option. Then if you go on to beverage number three, you can go back to your libation of choice and continue from there. Having a plastic cup filled with something in your hand also helps shrug off the peer pressure when friends say, “oh come on, have another one!”

At the end of the day, if you end up having that second hot dog or realize you’re the one who ate half the plate of seven-layer dip, don’t sweat it. Sometimes you have to be a little bad to get back to being good.

So for today, have fun celebrating our nation’s independence and whatever you do, please remember to designate a driver. That’s the best way to ensure you and yours will get home safely and face tomorrow with a renewed spirit to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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