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See You in September!

Soak Up What’s Left of Summer!

Well, it’s here. This Motivation Monday marks the last day of my favorite month of the year and the beginning of LauraLovesFitness’s annual August hiatus.

Before I take some time off from blogging to focus on other writing projects, new work assignments and of course, getting to the beach as much as possible, I wanted to leave everyone with three simple reminders on how to enjoy what’s left of the season while making some healthy choices.

  1. Don’t forget the sunscreen! Wherever and whenever you find yourself outside, make sure you protect your skin. Click here for a recap of the sunscreen that keeps me from burning without irritating my sensitive skin.
  2. Think Before You Drink! First of all, make sure you always have a designated driver selected to get home from a BBQ or pool party safely. As far as how to sip and enjoy libations with less guilt, one idea is to swap out sugar-loaded juices with seltzer. For example, you can mix shot of vodka with seltzer and then add a splash of cranberry or orange juice (or better yet, add orange or lemon slices) for a little sweet kick. Click here for some of my other lo-cal cocktail tricks.
  3. Keep moving! Take advantage of the extra daylight while we have it and maximize your outdoor activity routine. If you want to keep it social, grab a friend or two for a hike or walk on the beach or try getting the gang together for some beach volleyball.

Whatever you have on your calendar for the month ahead, I hope the days are filled with sun, fun, good food and good times. At the end of the day, it’s the memories we make with family and friends now that will keep us smiling in September…and on our never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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Gearing Up for The Summertime Cocktail Season

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Could the weeks be flying by any faster? I think the crazy weather we’ve been experiencing here in New York (along with much of the country) adds to my sheer disbelief that this Motivation Monday brings us exactly one week from Memorial Day – the unofficial start of summer.

In anticipation of the mercury rising and the sun finally shining in full force, I know I’m looking forward to a little margarita madness and other refreshing get-togethers with friends and family. Always one to promote the everything-in-moderation lifestyle, I also subscribe to the notion that a little preparation can make for a smart season ahead.

So for all my fellow libation lovers out there, here are a few of my go-to ricks for enjoying those booze-infused beverages with less guilt!

  • Use Real Fruit for Flavor: Orange, cranberry and pineapple juice are great mixers, but they’re loaded with sugar and unwanted calories. A better bet is to pick your poison and mix it with seltzer and lots of ice. Then add a couple of slices of fresh oranges, lemons, limes or even some pineapple chunks for flavor.
  • Other Low-Cal Options:  Pick the zero-calorie versions when mixing them with alcohol. At home, I like to keep a pitcher of Crystal Light in my fridge. When I add vodka, I measure the serving with a shot glass to keep tabs on how just how much alcohol I’m drinking. Finally, whether you’re partying at home or at a friend’s house, throw back water, seltzer or diet soda for every other drink to stay hydrated and keep the calorie intake under control.
  • The Every-Other-Drink Attack: Whether you’re partying at home or at a friend’s house, throw back water, seltzer or diet soda for every other drink to stay hydrated and keep the calorie intake under control.

On-The-Rocks & Frosty Alternatives: 

  • When mixing a Cape Codder (vodka & cranberry), replace high-sugar cranberry juice with light or reduced-calorie cranberry juice. For an even “slimmer” version of this summertime classic, mix one shot of raspberry or blueberry vodka with Diet Sprite, Diet 7Up, Sprite Zero or Fresca. You get the berry flavor without all the sugar.
  • Use diet tonic water when mixing with vodka or gin.
  • For the taste of cream soda with a kick,  add a shot of vanilla vodka to a tall glass of  Diet Coke.
  • Mudslides are delicious, but wow, do they pack a punch when it comes to calories! My recipe replaces the Bailey’s with a Weight Watchers latte flavored ice pop – minus the stick, of course! Put the frozen “ice cream” into a blender, and add crushed ice, 4-6 ounces of skim milk and a shot of vodka.  Blend and enjoy! (You can also add Kahlua, but that will up the calories a bit.)
If you’re planning to stock up for a fun Memorial Day weekend ahead, I hope these tips give you some helpful ideas. Of course, wherever and whenever you celebrate the holiday and approaching summer, be sure to keep things safe! Now, here’s to a great week and moving toward a season filled with plenty of sunshine-filled chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Bring on the BBQs!

iStock_000020109046SmallOn this last Motivation Monday of June, I’m excited to welcome the start of my favorite month of the year! I love July because it’s snack in the middle of my favorite season. Toss in Independence Day, fireworks, lots of daylight and all the opportunities for get-togethers, and you have my recipe for a great 31 days ahead.

While we tend to lighten up at this time if year by wearing less clothing and trying to savor more carefree moments with family and friends, barbecue season can offer some tasty challenges when it comes to keeping our healthy habits in check. The good news is you can enjoy the grilled fare along with some summer libations and still feel good in your favorite bikini or sundress.

Here are my top five summer party survival tips:

frozen drinks1) Lighten Up the Libations:  Orange, cranberry and pineapple juice are great mixers, but they’re loaded with sugar and unwanted calories. A better bet is to pick your poison and mix it with seltzer and lots of ice. Then add a couple of slices of fresh oranges, lemons, limes or even some pineapple chunks for flavor. The same goes for soda and energy drinks. Pick the zero-calorie versions when mixing them with alcohol. A At home, I always have a pitcher of Crystal Light in my fridge. When I add vodka, I measure the serving with a shot glass to keep tabs on how just how much alcohol I’m drinking. Finally, whether you’re partying at home or at a friend’s house, throw back water, seltzer or diet soda for every other drink to stay hydrated and keep the calorie intake under control.

2) Have a Snack: You never want to arrive hungry. That’s a surefire way to dig right into the chips and dips or other high-calorie platters. Have a snack with some protein about an hour before you head to the celebration. My go-to is usually a fat-free Greek yogurt with a handful of almonds, berries or a banana.

3) Weigh Your Options: If it’s on the menu, grilled shrimp is a great protein choice. Chicken has less calories than a cheeseburger or hot dog. By the way, I’d never tell anyone NOT to have a cheeseburger or hot dog if that’s what you really want. Just fill your paper plate with veggie or salad options first so you don’t have too much room for more than one burger or dog.

4) Be a Kid Again: Popsicles are a lower-calorie dessert option than cookies, cupcakes and other sweet treats.Maybe you even opt to bring a box or two along with the fruit salad or other dish you brought your host or hostess.

5) Get Moving: If your gym is closed for the 4th of July or you just can’t get to your normal workout spot because of time constraints, you can still go for a walk in your neighborhood or pop a DVD in the TV to get some exercise. If you know your party planner usually likes to get a good game of volleyball or if you’re the person the kids like to play, be sure to have a pair of sneakers with you for whatever action pops up.

Whatever your plans are for the month ahead, a little planning and a lot of common sense can make all the difference when it comes to staying on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Friday Fast Fact: Don’t Drink Your Calories

Stick with good ol’ H20 to keep your health & fitness goals on track!

As I often wrap up the work week with a food-related post, I thought I’d address one of the biggest mistakes I see people make all the time. The good news is it also happens to be a mistake with an easy fix.

You already know the most basic way to lose weight is to slash calories. Studies show the average person can drop a pound a week by trimming 500 calories a day. If you’re looking for an easy way to cut back, here it is: just say no to those sugary drinks!

Here are a few things I urge you to nix right now:

  • Soda: You might be saying, “Oh come on, Laura, I only have one large Coke from the deli everyday for a caffeine fix.What’s the big deal?” I’ll tell you. That’s usually a 16-oz serving, which weighs in at roughly 187 calories. Cutting it out means you’re already 1/3 of your way to eliminating those daily 500 calories  for weight loss. If you look at the bigger picture, you’re saving 1,2888 calories each week; 5,610 each month and a whopping 68,255 each year!
  • Frosty coffee drinks: If your idea of a “light lunch” is “I’ll just have a (insert name of favorite frothy coffee drink here),” it’s time to re-train the brain a bit.  Starbuck’ Mocha “Frappuccino” packs 400 calories while a  vanilla bean “Coolatta” at Dunkin’ Donuts registers at 440 calories. Considering both have zero nutritional value and will most likely leave you hungry for real sustenance after, it’s easy to see how using these drinks in place of real meals is healthy-eating sabotage.
  • Sugary cocktails: I’ve written several posts on how many frosty drinks are more like indulgent desserts thanks to ingredients like syrup, sour mix, sugary fruit juice and cream. Sipping drinks mixed with club soda, diet tonic water and a splash of citrus as opposed to full-on juice can help shave off hundreds of calories.
  • Sports drinks: The truth is unless you’re a power or endurance athlete who plays a sport for more than an hour, there’s no need to re-hydrate with a high-calorie option like Gatorade or Vitamin Water. On days when I can can only squeeze in 30-minutes on the elliptical followed by a  plank Tabata, I’ll burn approximately 350 calories. If I guzzle a sports drink, I’ll consume roughly 125 calories. So I walk away from my abbreviated workout with only 215 calories burned. That is not the post-cardio high I was looking for!

When in doubt, put down the syrupy beverage and load up on the water. The bottom line is good ol’ h2o will always be one of your best friends when it comes to keeping you on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

LauraLovesFitness Turns One!

Yes, I ate the cupcake! (As part of my “Everything-in-Moderation” lifestyle)

Wow! I have NO idea where the year went, but here we are 365 days after my very first post at LauraLovesFitness.com. It’s been a wonderful ride so far and I’m excited to see where the blogging adventure leads to in the days ahead.

Since July 11th, 2011, I’ve published 149 posts on topics ranging from key concepts in core training to the power of positive thinking and the importance of taking care of our mental health while focusing on our physical fitness. There have been express workout routines, music lists, interviews with icons in fitness and show biz, lo-cal cocktail recipes and reassurances for why it’s okay to take a day off from the gym AND indulge in a cupcake once in awhile.

Whether I was sharing my reasons for loving everything from small group training to Tabatas or offering a personal account of why you shouldn’t ignore  warning signs like pain and severe fatigue, I wrote each and every post with the same purpose: to motivate people to take better care of themselves. Not everyone likes to exercise. Not everyone wants to choose celery sticks over cheesecake. Yet, if I’ve inspired just one person to go out and find some sort of physical activity that makes him or her feel good or pack frozen grapes instead of chocolate covered ones for that trip to the beach, that’s all I need to truly celebrate my blog’s first birthday!

Here are a few links to some of my personal favorites from the past year. (If you have others that you particularly enjoyed, please let me know!)

Of course, I can’t let this special occasion go by without saying thank you for the support from my family, friends and all my readers. Whether you signed up for a subscription on day one or stop by occasionally to leave a “like,” post a comment or question, I appreciate anyone who takes some time out of a busy day to check in. Moving forward, I’d love to know which topics you’d like to read more about as well as the ones you’d prefer to see less frequently.

I’m also using this as an opportunity to invite fellow bloggers to appear as guests on this site. (If you’re interested, here’s a link to my contact information.) Sharing knowledge in different areas of expertise in the world of fitness, nutrition and overall health and well-being can only help more people on their journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Friday Flashback

Extending the holiday into chill time at one of my favorite places on Earth – Jones Beach

As I decided to turn the holiday falling in the middle of the week extended time off from the daily grind, I’m keeping vacation mode going on the blog front, too!

I’ll be back in full force next week, but for now, I wanted to leave you with some links to a few past posts that I hope you’ll find helpful if you’re taking your 4th of July fun right through the weekend. Here are some timely reminders on how a little moderation can go a long way when it comes to keeping on track with your health and fitness goals.

Laura’s Lo-Cal Cocktail Options

Frozen Fun

A Non-Gut Busting BBQ

Happy Friday, happy weekend and happy trails as you head out to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Frosty Friday

TGIF!

Based on the responses I got to last Friday’s post about some of my favorite low-calorie cocktail options, it seems even the biggest fitness fanatics enjoy unwinding a bit after a long week! So, I thought I’d wrap up this work week with a look at a few of my other less-guilt options when it comes to mixing things up on the frosty front.
  • Nothing low-cal about this drink on vacation, but you can make some adjustments at home!

    Margaritas: Now that Crystal Light makes a margarita-flavored mix, why not celebrate Cinco de Mayo by putting some in a blender with a shot of tequila and saving some calories for the chips and guacamole!

  • Mudslides: Oh, they are delicious, but boy, do they pack a punch when it comes to calories! According to CaloreKing.com, one Kahlua ready-to-drink Mudlslide has 2,364 calories. I tend to like Bailey’s in my mudslides, so my recipe replaces the Bailey’s with a Weight Watchers latte flavored ice pop. (Minus the stick, of course!) Put the frozen “ice cream” into a blender, and add crushed ice, 4-6 ounces of skim milk and a shot of vodka. Blend and enjoy! (You can also add a shot of Kahlua with the vodka, but that will up the calories a bit , but the final number won’t be anywhere near the 2,364 I mentioned above.)
  • Calorie-Conscious Creamsicle: I learned about this one at a Weight Watchers meeting and still have to try it, but it sounds really good! Put one packet of a Weight Watchers vanilla smoothie mix into a blender, and add WW orange-flavored fat-free yogurt, crushed ice and one shot of vodka. Blend and enjoy!
  • Speaking of Weight Watchers smoothie mixes, if you can get a hold of them, they’re really good and come in several flavors including vanilla, chocolate, caramel latte and even a berry blend.  Mix one packet in the blender with fresh strawberries, blueberries or banana, along with crushed ice, skim milk (or water) and a shot of vodka or rum. (These taste just as good without the alcohol.)

So, whether you’re planning to raise a frosty glass in honor of Cinco de Mayo this weekend or are just looking forward to the longer, warmer days ahead, remember to enjoy yourself responsibly.  Moderation and common sense are two key players in our lifelong journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Friday Fun

Happy Friday!

It seems everyone I’ve spoken to regardless of their age or profession has had one hell of a week! So, to help kick off what I hope will be an enjoyable weekend, I thought I’d share my newest favorite cocktail alternative that serves up some fun without all that sugary, calorie-filled guilt!

Crystal Light now offers mocktail mixes in Margarita, Mojito and Appletini. I’ve tried the Mojito and Margarita mixes and I have to say, I’m a fan! Like the other flavors, these drinks sans alcohol register at a mere five calories per glass. Add a shot of rum to the mojito or tequila to the margarita and you have another 100 calories. That’s a LOT better than a “normal” margarita where the mix alone can range from 200-300 calories per drink and a “regular” mojito comes in at around 175 calories. Want to skip the alcohol altogether? Add some club soda to these cocktails and serve over a tall glass of ice, and you’ll still have a refreshing way to end the day or make an afternoon more interesting!

Here are a few of my other staple “recipes” for low-cal cocktails:

  • When mixing a Cape Codder (vodka & cranberry), replace high-sugar cranberry juice with light or reduced-calorie cranberry juice. For an even “slimmer” version of this summertime classic, mix one shot of raspberry or blueberry vodka with Diet Sprite, Diet 7Up, Sprite Zero or Fresca. You get the berry flavor without all the sugar.
  • Use diet tonic water when mixing with vodka or gin.
  • For the taste of cream soda with a kick,  add a shot of vanilla vodka to a tall glass of  Diet Coke.
As any of my repeat readers can tell you, I’m a big fan of enjoying everything this life has to offer in moderation.  So, here’s wishing everyone a safe and fun-filled weekend filled with at least one or two chances to sit back, relax and pat yourself on the back for all you do to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Healthy Happy Hour?

For lots of people, Friday is the perfect excuse to head out of the office or leave the kids with a sitter and proceed directly to happy hour. Anyone who knows me will tell you I like my red wine, and enjoying a glass or two on a Friday evening is one of my favorite ways to wind down after the work week. If you don’t drink alcohol, your Friday night plans may still involve some good conversation and “decadent” snacks with friends. Regardless of what’s on your agenda, the good news is you can enjoy a little downtime without completely blowing your efforts at living a healthier lifestyle.

I’ve already written about my l0-cal cocktail options for some popular beverages. Here are a couple of other tips that help me balance my efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle with my need to blow off some steam and unwind:

  • The Every-Other-Drink Rule: If you think you may want more than one drink, space them out. Start with a glass of wine or a cocktail, and when your glass is empty, order a glass of water, seltzer or diet soda for your next beverage. You’ll still feel “social” sipping on something, but by the time you’re done with that non-alcoholic drink, happy hour could be over and you’ll have saved yourself some calories and lots of sugar, too! (If you do order another “leaded” drink, it’ll only be your second alcoholic beverage instead of your third.)
  • Happy Hour & Hunger Don’t Mix: There’s nothing worse than arriving at a bar or a friend’s house with a stomach that’s growling for anything. That’s when you inhale half a bowl of chips or order the loaded potato skins without a second thought. If you can, have a healthy snack within an hour before you go out so you’ll be less likely to indulge in the high-calorie, high-fat snacks. Some of my favorite pre-happy-hour snacks include: 94% fat-free microwave popcorn and an apple; a low-fat string cheese and an apple; or a serving of raw almonds and a plain fat-free Greek yogurt. If I’m not ravenous, I may be able to enjoy one drink and one glass of water and hold off on eating altogether until I have healthier options back at home. If I’m having too much fun to leave, at least hunger won’t keep me from noticing some of the better menu options, like a salad or steamed veggies.
Finally, remember, even the best laid plans can go awry. If you do go a little overboard at happy hour, don’t sweat it. There’s always tomorrow when you can re-hydrate, make better food choices and get in a good workout at the gym, pop in your favorite exercise DVD or take the kids or the dog for a long walk. Even the most disciplined people need to let loose every once in awhile as part of our journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
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