If you find yourself in a haze after another weekend full of holiday cheer, take comfort knowing you’re definitely not alone. With Christmas only eight days away, the festivities have spun into overdrive. ‘Tis also the time those items on the to-do list grow a little more daunting with each day that passes leading up to the 25th. So, in order to let all you busy elves get back to business, here are a few survival tips to get through the next week while keeping some healthy habits in check:
- Drink water: One cannot exist on egg nog (or wine, or bubbly) alone. It’s no secret that boozy libations are high in sugar and calories. Just remember, if you’re reaching for an alternative, stick with water instead of soda or other sugary drinks that can also make you feel sluggish after the initial caffeine or sugar rush wears off. Water is still king when it comes to staying hydrated. In addition to helping us keep our appetite in check, proper hydration also promotes better sleep which is something most of us can use.
- Try a Little Culture: I’m talking about the live cultures found in foods like yogurt that can help keep our tummies balanced during a time when we tend to indulge a little more. The majority of our immune system is found in the digestive tract, so it’s an important place to take care of. Think about adding a yogurt to your daily routine this week, or try a food known for beneficial bacteria like miso or kimchi.
- Do NOT Skip Breakfast: I was definitely guilty of this bad habit during in my younger years, especially at this time of year filled with so many after-work festivities. Skipping meals may sound like a great way to save calories for the fun night ahead, but all it usually does is open the door for a hangry arrival at a party followed by a fast track to the richest, highest-calorie option on the table. Make sure to have breakfast with some protein. Whether you’re an Isagenix shake lover like me, or just have a hard-boiled egg or a non-fat plain Greek yogurt, getting something in your stomach is important to get the metabolism going. If you don’t want a full lunch, make sure to at least have a few snacks throughout the day – maybe almonds and a green apple or celery sticks and hummus – to stay fueled. And definitely have something at least an hour before the party so you don’t inhale a plate of hors d’oeuvres the minutes you walk in.
- Find Creative Ways to Exercise: Is the party taking you away from your normal group exercise class after work? Then maybe try to get up a little earlier and go for a power walk or bang out some Tabatas in your living room. If you drive to work, park farther away from the entrance and take the stairs instead of the elevator to your office. Try and sneak out for 10 minutes at lunchtime for another walk, or if the weather is bad, use the stairs. Remember, 10 minutes of anything is always better than nothing!
- Pack Healthy Essentials: Traveling for Christmas? Be sure to pack your sneakers and a couple of sports bras, tees and yoga pants along with the presents. Don’t forget the portable shaker and shake packets for a healthy breakfast or snack option, and don’t be shy about bringing your own raw almonds, KIND bars or other portable snacks so you’re always armed with some healthy options for the time away from home.your normal routine.
As Christmas crunch time winds down, remember this: the key is to do simple things for yourself so you don’t turn into a holiday humbug and stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Thanksgiving remains my all-time favorite holiday because it’s a day that provides a chance for us to pause and give thanks for all that’s good in our lives. As I continue to reflect on and recover emotionally from the events of last month, I know I have even more to be grateful for this year. And what better way to embrace what’s good than spending quality time with family, friends and plenty of delectable food and drinks?
It’s probably no surprise to learn between the snacking and sitting down for a traditional holiday meal, the Calorie Control Council reports the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day. (And we won’t even address the leftovers many of us forage on throughout the extended holiday weekend.) So, I thought I’d help everyone start the week of strong with a few holiday feasting survival tips:
- Move it! Don’t skimp on the activity this week. Remember, ten minutes of some type of exercise are always better than doing nothing. The bonus is you’ll get a mental boost knowing you made an effort prior to the the indulging. On Thursday, even if you’re hosting the holiday fun and can’t leave the house, you can pop in an exercise DVD or bang out a Tabata or two first thing in the morning. You could also try and sneak out for a brisk power walk or abbreviated run. Your gym is open? Great! Try a morning group exercise class or attack some cardio and core work. A few solid planks can make you feel strong before filling your belly with those delicious eats!
- Eat breakfast! Be sure to eat something sensible on Thanksgiving morning to kick-start your metabolism. If you’re not feasting until late afternoon, make sure to follow breakfast with a small lunch or smart snack so you don’t go overboard later. Some ideas: non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a handful of almonds mixed in; a green apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter or a piece of toasted Ezekiel bread topped with a sliced hard-boiled egg and salsa. These protein-rich snacks will keep you feeling full longer than a sugar-infused snack. For me, blending a chocolate Isagenix shake for breakfast is always a surefire way to know I started the day off on the right foot – even if it all goes downhill later!
- Mind Those Portions! Load up a smaller dish, like one you’d use for salad, for your meal. Start filling it with salad or veggies and then add the protein-rich turkey. Use the remaining space for the potatoes, stuffing and other starches. There simply won’t be as much room left as you’d have on a regular dinner plate.
- Savor the Flavor! Eat slowly! If you do clean your plate, wait 10 minutes before going back for round two. This will help you decide if you’re really hungry. If you aren’t, you’ll feel good knowing you had one helping – and saved room for dessert, of course!
- Keep Tabs on the Libations! This is the perfect day to follow the every-other-drink plan. Enjoy your libation of choice, followed by a glass of still or sparkling water before moving on to cocktail number two…and so on…
- Doggie Bags Make Great Favors! Hosting the holiday get-together? Don’t be shy about giving sending some of the uneaten turkey and trimmings home with your guests.
I wrap this year’s post like the others by extending my heartfelt wishes to all my readers to enjoy a very Happy Thanksgiving! Your support is one of the many things I am thankful for at the holiday, and all year round. One final note: If you end up breaking the calorie bank this Thanksgiving, don’t sweat it. Laughter, good food and even some good wine can be the perfect ingredients for a happy holiday as we continue our ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
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:
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.
A handful of people have asked me about the recent, healthy glow to my skin. So I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday post to share my secret: I just spent nine days eliminating one of the biggest toxins in so many American diets – sugar.
I made a serious commitment to eat clean and cut out some of the crap I’d let sneak back into my life a little more than I should have. That meant eliminating alcohol and dairy. (Check your food labels – many dairy products contain hidden sugars.) After my go-to chocolate-flavored Isagenix shake for breakfast, it was nothing but clean food choices for the rest of the day: raw veggies galore, leafy lettuces, green apples, whole grains, Ezekiel bread, lean proteins (chicken and shrimp were my go-tos), hard-boiled eggs and lots and lots of water and caffeine-free herbal tea. (Yes, I even skipped my daily iced coffee fix with non-fat creamer.) I snacked smarter, too. I kept the raw almond consumption to a smart portion of 8 to 10 at a time while adding a green apple or hard- boiled egg for extra satiety.
The result? Each morning, I found myself feeling better rested than I can remember without what I call a sugar-induced fog. I also found the reflection in the mirror looking back at me with less of the puffiness than what can appear after a night of having that extra glass of wine or super sugary treat for dessert.
As we kick off a new week, I offer this idea: – is there something you can cut out of your diet today, tomorrow and maybe the next day that’s become more of a “comfort crutch” than a nutritional necessity? Whether it’s eliminating the soda, the bread, the sweets or the booze, sometimes just a few days of being extra good can help you find new zest for the healthy habits you’ve been trying to maintain.
Will I be drinking my iced coffees and sipping Proscecco and Sangria as we continue moving into the warmer spring days? Absolutely! But scaling back once in a while to save up for a special occasion can make those indulgences even more enjoyable. There’s no time like the present to take stock of the one or two things in your fridge or pantry that could be holding you back from your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
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.
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!
Right up there with the Fourth of July (which takes place in my favorite season), Thanksgiving remains my all-time favorite holiday because it’s a day that makes us stop and give thanks for everything good in our lives. And what better way to take that pause than spending some quality time with family, friends…and plenty of yummy food and drinks?
It’s probably no surprise to learn between all the snacking and sitting down for a traditional turkey-with-all-the-trimmings meal, the Calorie Control Council reports the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day. So, I thought I’d help everyone start the week of strong with a few holiday feasting survival tips:
- Move it! Don’t skimp on the activity this week. Remember, ten minutes of exercise are always better than zero. The bonus is you’ll have the mental boost knowing you made an effort prior to the Turkey Day feast. On Thursday, even if you’re hosting the holiday fun and can’t leave the house, you can pop in an exercise DVD or bang out a Tabata first thing in the morning. Or sneak out for some fresh air and a brisk power walk or abbreviated run. Your gym is open? Great! Try a morning group exercise class or attack some cardio and core work. A few solid planks can make you feel strong before filling your belly with delicious eats.
- Eat breakfast! Be sure to eat something sensible on Thanksgiving morning to kick-start your metabolism. If you’re not feasting until late afternoon, make sure to follow breakfast with a small lunch or sensible snack so you don’t go overboard later. Two ideas: non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a serving of almonds mixed in or a piece of toasted Ezekiel bread topped with a sliced hard-boiled egg and salsa. These protein-rich snacks will keep you feeling full longer than a sugar-infused snack. For me, blending a chocolate Isagenix shake for breakfast is always a surefire way to know I started the day off on the right foot – even if it all goes downhill later!
- Mind Your Portions! Use a salad or other small dish for your meal. Start with salad or veggies and then add the turkey. Use the remaining space for the potatoes, stuffing and other starches. There simply won’t be as much room left as you’d have on a regular dinner plate.
- Savor the Flavor! Eat slowly! If you do clean your plate, wait 10 minutes before going back for round two. This will help you decide if you’re really hungry. If you aren’t, you’ll feel good knowing you had one helping – before moving on to dessert, of course!
- Keep Tabs on the Libations! This is the perfect day to follow the every-other-drink-is-alcohol plan. Enjoy a glass of wine, beer or cocktail then have a glass of still or sparking water before moving on to the next cocktail.
- Make Doggie Bags! Hosting the holiday feast? Don’t be shy about giving some of the uneaten turkey and trimmings to your guests.
I wrap things up by offering heartfelt wishes to all my readers for a very Happy Thanksgiving! With each year that passes, I grow even more thankful for so many blessings including my family, my friends, my health and for the support I receive from my “fitfam,” which includes all my loyal readers. One final note: If you end up breaking the calorie bank this Thanksgiving, don’t sweat it. Laughter, good food and even some good wine can be the perfect ingredients for a happy holiday as we continue our ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I think it’s safe to say birthdays present the perfect opportunity for reflection. While I reminisced about the many experiences that will forever define my forty-second year on Earth, it was no surprise the most defining moments were those that involved family and friends. Many of those moments were happy ones. Others were the complete opposite. The reality is I begin living my forty-third year missing a few very special people. However, while they’ve been taken from this world physically, the memories of their love and friendship will remain a source for smiles and strength for all the years to come.
I was truly blessed to celebrate another birthday with both my parents. Their love and guidance have made me the woman I am today. I’m equally blessed to say I’ve never felt healthier or stronger – both physically and mentally – than I do right now. That strength was tested many times in the past year as I found myself along with several of my closest friends dealing with some very “grown-up” challenges: Family members suffering from attacks on their physical and mental well-being; sweet children growing up to become troublesome teens; job security growing less secure and relationships breaking up.
In a world filled with so much uncertainty, one thing I can control year after year is how I take care of my body. Exercising and eating healthy continue to help keep my immune system strong even when events and emotions seem overwhelming. Of course, the other “thing” that continues to work for me is embracing the everything-in-moderation mentality. That’s why I refused to feel zero guilt about my birthday snack featuring a chocolate – peanut butter cupcake and a glass of champagne. It felt equally good hitting the healthy reset button the day after my birthday by blending an Isagenix protein shake and hitting the gym.
Speaking of the gym, another thing I learn year after year is you’re definitely never too old to try something new. Some of my longtime readers may remember several years ago I enjoyed sparring with my personal trainer Roberto once or twice a week. A hand injury took me out of that game for awhile, but thanks to the recommendation of my gal pal Elisa, I decided to get back into the punching world and signed up for ILoveKickboxing.com.
After one sweat-filled 50-minute class last week, I was riding a crazy endorphin-filled high. I also laughed to myself thinking about how I could have crushed some serious stress if only I had I had started punching and kicking a heavy bag sooner! The class is a cardio, strength and endurance experience featuring boxing gloves, heavy bags and non-stop drills of core exercises ranging from mountain climbers to push-ups as well as solo and partner-friendly rounds of jabs, hooks, upper cuts and kicks. I am excited to add this new workout to my exercise regimen for the year ahead (which still includes Physique57 classes and Tabata training) and see how it helps take my physical and mental strength to another level.
So, I guess this is a roundabout way of saying taking control of your health is something anyone can do at any age or fitness level. Don’t be afraid to strike out and try something new. There’s no doubt the road ahead can trip us up at any time with bumps, twists and turns. Instead of looking back, use the lessons of the past to catapult you into the future and all the opportunities calling you to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
It happened again. I blinked and here we are on the last Motivation Monday of January! Four weeks into 2017, I offer big kudos to everyone sticking with those plans to make this your healthiest year yet.
If you feel like your motivation is starting to wane, here’s a boost to keep you going. In only a couple of weeks, some of the new things you started will feel like part of your daily routine. If you’re discouraged about the number on the scale, forget the numbers and think about how many of these non-scale-related wins you’ve experienced so far this year:
- Do you have more energy?
- Do your clothes fit better?
- Do you see a new glow in your skin?
Remember, healthy living isn’t a sprint. It’s a lifelong marathon and there will be days when even the most disciplined among us stray off course. It’s part of being human. To help you stay on track, I offer three tips to keep in mind for the days, weeks and months ahead:
- Start your day with the right fuel. I believe in the power of a healthy breakfast, but I’m also highly aware of how little time many of us have to even think about scrambling some eggs or waiting around for Ezekiel bread to toast. That’s why I love starting my days with a chocolate Isagenix shake. It takes the guess-work out of determining what will give me the nutrients I need, and I can either make it in the blender or use my portable shaker. Not a shake person? Grab a hard-boiled egg or non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Bonus Tip: adding fresh fruit to your yogurt is a lower-sugar option to the flavored varieties. All of these protein-packed options will keep you full longer than starchy, sugary items like frozen waffles or pancakes.
- 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 tempting your nostrils from the food court. What will you find in my bag? Either a bag of almonds or KIND bar. I love these snacks because they’re yummy and because they contain no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols and provide a balanced combination of healthy fats, protein and complex carbs.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Sure, 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 snacking. Push the apple slices and peanut butter snacks on a normal basis and save the treats for special occasions.
Here’s to wrapping up the first month of 2017 on a positive note and to welcoming February and all the new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!