Blog Archives

Hitting the Pause Button

Don't forget to stretch!

Don’t forget to stretch! Photo by Leslie Hassler

Wow. Here we are celebrating another Columbus Day and marching toward the middle of October. Meanwhile, more holiday displays keep popping up in the stores. To me, it’s all proof that time flies by faster each year and life simply gets more hectic as we get older.

If you’re a parent, you struggle with the complexities of your children growing up. All of us eventually face challenges as our parents age. At times, situations can be overwhelming and paralyzing. This is why it’s so important to carve out some precious moments of time to pause and regroup. Little did I know I’d find a big jolt of strength spending 30 minutes doing something I hadn’t done in far too long.

On Saturday morning after my usual Physique57 workout, I stayed an extra half hour for stretch class. Those 30 minutes did more wonders than I can explain. If I had an internal pause button, I’d say it clicked. That allowed me to worry only about three things for 30 minutes: inhaling, exhaling and holding stretches to release some of the tension in the multiple tight spots of my body.

I often write about the importance of making  for ourselves, but today I offer the reminder that sometimes that means finding a few moments to simply breathe deeply and stretch. What is your body telling you? Maybe it doesn’t need the hard-core boot-camp experience today. Maybe the lungs need to fill up with some extra air and your muscles need some TLC. As my wonderful instructor Lindi reminded us throughout the stretch session, sometimes you also need to shut out the noise and remember the good things in your life: the people who make you smile or a memory of a family get together or carefree moment at the beach.

As we all get back into fall sports, now’s the perfect time to re-focus your attention on flexibility and the all-important stretches too many of us skip as we rush out of the gym to our next busy activity. A lot of injuries happen at this time of year as people get back to their not-so-lazy-days-of-summer routines. Remember – if you haven’t played fall ball since…well, last fall…you need to warm up and be careful with muscles that may have been inactive for awhile.

If you’re off on this Motivation Monday for the holiday, why not take just 10 minutes to breathe in some air, think about stretching out the kinks in your hard-working body or at least plan a 10 to 20 minute block of time this week when you can. Whether you want to try a new group exercise class, meditation or a new nutrition program, deciding on a new goal is the first big step in making things happen on our never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Mental Health Monday

‘Tis the Season to Find Your Happy Place!

As we kick off yet another work week, I’m doing all I can to hold on to the feeling of calm I managed to capture by extending the 4th of July into a mini-vacation.

I hope someday someone will be able to put a scientific rationale behind that old saying “time flies when you’re having fun.” Until that happens, I offer an important reminder about a crucial component to keeping your health and fitness routine in check: don’t underestimate the importance of taking care of your mind. 

With the dog days of summer upon us, there’s no time like the present to take a look at your schedule and figure out how to pencil in some time to re-charge and re-boot. For me, it meant extending the holiday into a few extra days away from the office and escaping to one of my favorite places on the planet: Jones Beach.

Armed with my sunscreen, an umbrella, a beach blanket, a chair and plenty of water and healthy snacks, I claimed a small piece of waterfront property for myself and tuned out the world by listening to the most soothing sound I know. I captured 60-seconds worth of that sound on my iPhone so I could sneak a listen whenever the world gets a bit overwhelming. I’m sharing it here in the hopes of helping others do the same:

I admit, I didn’t use these precious beach days as an excuse to be a total slug. Instead, I used the sun-soaked backdrop as a different venue for my workouts. I traded my 30-minute elliptical session for 50-minute power walks and followed those steps with plank, squat and/or push-up Tabatas on the sand. (Other no-gym-equipment-required exercises for beach Tabatas include burpees, squat thrusts or mountain climbers.) After breaking a sweat, I was more than happy to cool off in the crisp Atlantic Ocean.

I realize a true getaway may not be in the cards for everyone this summer. However, whatever time you can take for yourself – whether it’s an afternoon, morning or evening of tuning out – do it! Whatever you do, make sure you totally disconnect at some point during the week. I mean get off the iPhone or Blackberry, don’t worry about uploading a photo to Facebook or tweeting about the healthy snack you just ate. Just chill! Use the longer days as a reason to enjoy some time outside in the evening with family or friends. Take a walk, have dinner out on your deck or bring a picnic to the park.

So, while I’m constantly motivating people to move more, I’m now challenging you to find a way to slow down a bit. Then let me know how you sneak some down time into your schedule. If we don’t take advantage of these “lazy days of summer,” we may miss the perfect opportunity to make mental health breaks part of our everyday journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Fitness for the Mind: Holiday Edition

Chill Out! Photo by Leslie Hassler

One of my first posts here on LauraLovesFitness was all about the importance of keeping your brain in shape along with your body. With the holiday season in full swing, I thought it was the perfect time to remind everyone about the importance of keeping your mind healthy during the hustle and bustle of this joyous but frenetic time of year.

No doubt exercise can help you shake off some of the extra calories and some of the extra stresses associated with this season, including crowded stores, travel delays and spending extended amounts of time with the extended family. However, when you factor in how online shopping and maybe some lo-cal recipe surfing are added to the year-round attack on our senses – emailing, texting, Tweeting, updating our Facebook status and even DVR-ing – it’s no wonder our minds are in overdrive. With so much more than sugar plums dancing through our heads, it could be more important than ever to challenge yourself to steal some precious moments to simply disconnect and re-boot. Here a few tips to make it happen:

  • Focus on one thing at a time: If you know you’re setting aside an hour to wrap gifts, then for that hour, don’t deal with texting or answering emails. If it makes you feel better, you can alert your social network that you’ll be offline for a bit. Then put on the holiday tunes (or whatever motivates you to be a good elf) and get to work.
  • Step away from the computer: This month, I have been making a very conscious effort to NOT turn on my home computer unless absolutely necessary when I get home from work and the gym. I still check my iPhone at least once before bed to make sure I didn’t miss any “emergency” emails, but it makes a difference not to have the laptop on with the Facebook tab taunting me to make my way back to the keyboard.
  • Turn off the TV: We still have a no-TV “rule” in our home on Wednesdays. I’m really looking forward to it this week, as it will be nice to decompress with a game of  Backgammon or cards. It may turn into a night of getting the Christmas gifts in order, but it’ll be time to tackle those holiday chores with fewer distractions.
  • Steal some time for YOU: If you’re making the commitment to find 20-30 minutes in your crazy schedule for a workout, take another 5 minutes to stretch. Then maybe add a few more minutes to a hot shower at night. Treat yourself to a lavender-scented body wash or moisturizer to turn that shower in to an extra calming experience for your senses. Sip some caffeine-free tea afterward and try to shut down that overactive mind before getting under the covers.

As we work through this holiday high-time and you make an effort to workout, don’t forget the importance of standing still for awhile, too. Never underestimate the power of your mind on the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

%d bloggers like this: