This first Motivation Monday of August officially brings us to the start of the dog days of summer. Just when you thought the New York City summer couldn’t be any quieter, these are the days we Manhattanites savor shorter lines and fewer crowds at the gym, the supermarket and all those happening hot spots. This Motivation Monday also happens to bring me closer to my annual escape from the sizzling concrete jungle to the beautiful beaches of Montauk. I can practically smell the sea air now.
This year’s trip seems to be arriving at a truly perfect time as I shake off the remnants of a nasty bug that literally threw me off-balance for nearly three weeks. Who knew a virus could set up shop in your inner ear and make you feel seasick 24-hours a day? Needless to say the dizzy spells and nausea seriously interfered with my normal workout routine. It was tough for this exercise junkie to take a break from what provides a daily boost to my physical and mental well-being. However, it’s equally if not more important to listen to your body when something’s wrong. While some prescription medicine slowly brought balance back to my life, the remedy came with some not-so-optimal effects including many sleepless nights. I now look forward to finishing the healing process at the beach – my absolute favorite place on the planet.
Finally, this is also when I say ciao for the rest of the month. As my longtime readers already know, I use this time as an opportunity for a little writing hiatus as the calendar marches toward Labor Day. So, I close with a thank you to all my readers for your ongoing support and wish you a grand finale to the summer of 2015. I look forward to re-connecting in September and taking advantage of all the new opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
It’s hard to believe this Motivation Monday brings us exactly two weeks away from Labor Day. Most consider the holiday the unofficial end of summer. As I sat on the beach on the last day of my last vacation of the season, I realized how much time can be wasted thinking about how many hours or days we have left to enjoy something instead of seizing and savoring the present moment.
I stared at the roaring sea, listened to the waves crashing against the sand and started breathing a little more deeply. I wanted to savor the scent of salt and sunscreen and embrace the feeling of the heat on my sun-kissed skin. However, somehow the my-vacation-is-almost-over panic crept in to my head and in to my heart. Panic about the future. Back in the concrete jungle. Back amidst the cacophony of sirens and horns. Back amongst the crowds of students on the subways and more people in the streets.
I know I’m not alone in this constant struggle between living in the present and worrying about what’s to come. As my mom pointed out, how can we not project about what’s two days or two weeks in the future when we’re bombarded with back-to-school sales in June and Christmas promotions in July?
Then I went for a last long beach walk, and one of my all-time favorite quotes from the legendary Dr. Seuss popped into my over-analytical head:
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
And I did smile. I realized how fortunate I was to be back in Montauk with my parents after last year’s hiatus because of my father’s emergency heart surgery. I realized the ocean will continue to churn and then settle into a calm, just like the different seasons and stages of life. At some point, each of us may face the end of a vacation…a job…a marriage…a life. My goal as I move toward a new season is to remember it’s healthier for the body and the spirit to hold on to what was good than lose sleep and sanity over what went wrong and what we can’t get back.
So when life seems overwhelming, I will close my eyes and envision the mighty sea to give me the energy I need to keep going. Whatever gives you strength- a good workout, an image of your children laughing without a care in the world, a conversation with your best friend – enjoy as many of those moments as you can this week and in the weeks ahead. We can’t change the fact that time will always march forward. But savoring the only thing we have control over in that journey – the present moment – can help us take on life’s challenges while keeping us on the course to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Still riding a high from my Montauk vacation, I thought I’d use this Workout Wednesday to remind everyone to soak up what’s left of summer by getting some exercise outside!
I know I’ve written a lot about my new obsession with Tabata training. Well, here’s another chapter in that love affair! (In case you forgot, the idea behind this four-minute high-intensity formula is eight continuous intervals of 20 seconds of maximum intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest.)
Here are two Tabatas I banged out four out of the five days during my recent beach getaway. There’s nothing particularly fancy about either of them. They just happened to be extra rewarding with the feel of the sun on my skin and the sand under my feet. Of course, let’s not forget the ultimate reward: being able to cool off in the ocean when the hard work was done!
- Plank Tabata: I got my mom to use my iPhone to capture me doing one. Enjoy!
- Beach Sprint Tabata. I know, I’m not a runner, but I actually motivated myself to use the beach as a distraction from an activity I normally don’t like to do. So, in true Tabata fashion, here’s how I worked it: For the 20-second max intensity portion of the interval, I simply ran as close to a sprint as possible while keeping good form on the uneven surface of the sand. Then for the 10-second “rest” period of the interval, I simply slowed to a walk. On the last two days of the trip, I managed to pull off a mini “Tabata Derby” by doing three sprint Tabatas in a row (with a minute of rest in between).
The kicker was that I got my “regular” elliptical and weight training workouts in at the fitness center each morning before 8:30. Then, usually just before or after lunch, I would use the beach for the Tabatas. Getting two workouts in on a day was another huge treat during my vacation!
Even if you’re not a beach lover, you can still do exercises like squats, lunges, side planks and crunches in a park or in your own backyard! Whatever the season, there are plenty of ways to take your favorite exercises to new places and find exciting ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I don’t think I realized how badly I needed a vacation until it actually started.
Yes, I’m a pretty upbeat and positive human being, but we all have our moments. Between stress at work and in my personal life, I had more than my usual share of those moments over the past several months.
As I start this new work week fueled with more energy than I’ve had in what feels like forever, I believe a lot of that stress got lost at sea in Montauk.
I made a very important decision before escaping the concrete jungle I love to call my home. I left everything behind. My production job, this blog and even the new project I hope to make a serious dent in this fall. (Stay tuned.) Being a creature of habit, I did check my office email a couple of times while I was on the beach. In response to my responses, my boss kindly told me to get back to vacation. So I did. (Thanks, Larry!)
So what did I focus on while I was away? Taking care of myself. That included:
- Working out
- Trying a new Zumba class at the fitness center
- Taking long walks on the beach
- Catching up on back issues of People
- Indulging in a 90-minute massage
- Cutting back on the social media scene
Finally and perhaps most importantly, I also made a point of writing in my journal everyday. Like exercise, writing has always been a cathartic experience. I may be too afraid to say things out loud, but sharing those thoughts on the blank pages of my journal helps me see things more clearly, especially with a little help from an exercise-induced endorphin rush and some sea air.
It was during one of those moments that I wrote my first poem in at least 15 years. I realize I’ve never shared a poem here on my blog, so I hope you’ll indulge me in this shift from the ordinary. Before you dive in, let me say I realize taking week off from work or life may not be possible in your life right now, but make sure you find some time to focus on taking care of yourself amidst the madness we call life. Sometimes an extended workout or escape to the backyard to catch up on some reading is what the body and soul need to recharge so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
“Wash Over Anew”
Staring out into the black night,
White foam stretches across the sand, only moments after the crash of a wave.
Another crash, another ripple of white foam,
All the while, the bright stars hidden in the city somehow shine down upon me from this night sky.
Each crash, each ripple of white foam, each sparkling star – a reminder –
Good times, bad times
They come and go,
Enter and retreat from this life,
Yet the rhythm of the ocean stays constant , just like the penetrating stare of the stars,
As does the fire burning within us –
The fire we cannot allow to die.
Use your inner strength to keep it aglow –
And just like the sea, the power to retreat and the power to wash over anew,
As many of you read this, I’m either headed to or have already started basking in the sunshine at one of my favorite places on the planet: Montauk, New York.
So begins a week-long vacation and some long-anticipated downtime! That means I’ll be taking some time off from blogging, too. (I also plan to be a little less active on the Twitter feed and Facebook timeline.)
A big part of my vacation will be enjoying some non-time-restricted workouts and hopefully getting some of my exercises done at the beach. Stay tuned for posts later this month on how that all plays out.
For now, I leave you with some feel-good music that I’ll be sure to listen to while staring at the sea, taking long beach walks or reading. Some are new, some are fast, some are true “summer” anthems and some are the old-standbys that always make me smile!
- “Vacation,” the Go-Gos
- “Cruel Summer,” Bananarama
- “Shake It,” Anane (feat. Mr. Vegas & Tony Touch)
- “Let’s Go,” Calvin Harris (feat. Ne-Yo)
- “The Fire,” The Roots & John Legend
- “Time of My Life,” 3 Doors Down
- “Boys of Summer,” Don Henley
- “Scream,” Usher
- “How You Like Me Now,” The House That Dirt Built
- “Heat of the Moment,” Asia
- “Shout,” Tears for Fears
Here’s to a great weekend ahead! I look forward to my extended unwind time so I can return to reality with new energy to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
There is a phenomenon in fitness called the cumulative injury cycle. Basically, if you continue to exercise without correcting any postural distortions that lead to muscle imbalances, the compensations your body makes to allow you to follow through with the exercise will eventually lead to an injury. I am also a firm believer our mental fitness can take a serious hit if we don’t take time to rest and regroup.
As I sit here looking at the ocean in Montauk, I realize what a different person I am today than just two days ago. I attribute this mind-altered state to two factors: I am on vacation and I am doing things for myself I simply do not do enough of at home. That includes:
- Letting the sound of the ocean drown out my anxieties about work
- Not rushing through my workouts
- Sitting in the steam room after my workouts
- Getting a massage
- Eating dessert
- Not worrying about having less-than-optimal cell or WiFi service
To expand on that last point, I haven’t been able to upload any pictures taken on my iPhone to my Facebook page and I have only been able to update my status once. I have been able to open my work and personal email accounts, but I haven’t been able to send a reply. Forget about Twitter or LinkedIn. I finally decided to stop trying to open my apps and simply said: “You are on vacation!” If someone really needs to get a hold of me, I can still retrieve voice messages from a few spots in the parking lot.
Whether you run the household, run a business or have a job where you answer to a boss, everyone works hard. No doubt the state of the economy has shattered whatever our definition of financial security was in the past. Many of us still struggle from the aftershock of losing a job or may be trying to keep a business afloat. This makes it all the more important to take some time to be good to ourselves when we can.
Realistically, a vacation or trip to the spa may not be attainable at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shut out the world for an hour or two a week. Some escape plans include:
- Replace that Bluetooth in your ear with ear buds for 30 minutes a night and plug them into a sound machine tuned to the ocean surf or frogs in the forest.
- Add 10 minutes to your workout routine and stretch.
- For once, try yoga instead of that heart- and muscle-pounding cardio kickboxing class.
- Take a bath instead of a shower before going to bed.
- While summer is still here, take your dinner outside and have a picnic in your backyard, roof deck or nearby park.
While it’s important to focus on work, we owe it to ourselves to find our own unique ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!