Eleven Years Later…
I woke up on this Motivation Monday realizing we’ve somehow crossed the halfway mark for the month of July. Which also made me realize I completely forgot this blog had another “birthday” last week. It’s been 11 years since the first LauraLovesFitness post went live.
Each year that passes gives me pause not only because time seems to be moving faster and faster, but because life continues to present surprises I could never have imagined when I started writing. (A pandemic? In these modern times?) Things defined as top priorities more than a decade ago seem trivial now; while the importance of family, friends, health and faith have grown more important than ever. As I have aged along with this site, I can say my 40s have been a good decade when it comes to being more confident in my decisions and not wasting time worrying about what other people think about my choices. However, these years have also been filled with new things to worry about. My biggest fears now surround my aging parents and their myriad of health issues. I know I’m blessed to still have them both with me, but watching them struggle to do things that used to come easily is hard on the heart. Then I think of my friends who’ve already lost one or both parents and I’m overwhelmed thinking about the gravity of their loss.
While the issues that weigh heavily on the heart may have changed, there is still one constant that helps me push through the fear and uncertainty: exercise. At this point, I feel I can honestly say I’ve tried every workout under the sun, and nothing has had a more positive impact on my physical and mental health than boxing. Let me be clear, I don’t spar with others, but I do unleash hell on the heavy bag during 60-minute workouts at TITLE Boxing in Huntington. The classes are a core component of my self-care routine, along with mindful eating and every attempt to get enough sleep. I’ve also managed to cut back on my wine intake, which got a little out of hand in 2020 and 2021. If you’re still struggling to get back on track after a difficult couple of years, don’t beat yourself up. Finding my fitness groove didn’t happen overnight, and it will forever remain a work in progress. Trying to follow a healthy lifestyle isn’t a sprint.
I’m sorry to say one activity that used to help keep my mental health in check has become more of a chore than catharsis. I’m talking about writing. Thoughts and words feel more jumbled in my mind and I stress over finding the right way to put them together. So I honestly don’t know what the future of this site holds. Maybe it’s time to explore a different platform and different topics altogether. For now, I guess I’ll follow the advice I’ve offered here countless times and just take things one day at a time.
I close with a huge thank you to all my readers. Whether you’ve been stopping by here since day one or drop in from time to time, your support of my ramblings means more than words can say. My hope is we all find peace and comfort in these challenging times by clinging to the people and activities that nourish the heart and soul. And may we also find the strength to let go of the things – and yes, even the people – that may no longer be good for us. Wishing you a summer filled with good times and plenty of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Laura Loves Fitness Turns 10!
I realize many of my posts kick off with a commentary on the passage of time. While it’s hard to believe we’ve crossed the halfway mark for 2021, I’m having a harder time processing another moment in my personal history. This week marks an entire decade since my very first blog post appeared here on LauraLovesFitness.
It’s a bit overwhelming to think about how this blog – and ultimately, its creator – has changed during these past 10 years. The site started as a place to share exercise and nutrition tips a few times a week. However, a gamut of life experiences reminded me health and well-being are affected by so much more than a specific workout or meal choice. Death, illness, divorce, job loss and tragedies faced by loved ones all take a toll on one’s body and spirit, affecting everything from the motivation to exercise to sleep patterns. While exercise has remained a constant source of solace through the challenging times, writing seems to become an even bigger part of my mental health care routine with each year that passes.
Of course, this past year changed life in a way most never could have imagined. Neither exercise nor writing offered the solace I’d relied on in previous years to bring me back to my center, and the number of blog posts simply dropped off. I’m honestly not sure how much I’ll share here as we make our way through the second half of 2021. Yet, I find comfort knowing I have a space I can share my thoughts when I’m ready. And that is thanks to you, my wonderful readers.
Many of you have been here since day one – July 13, 2011 – and others joined the journey somewhere along the way. I am grateful to each and every one of you for taking the time to stop by and offer your own words of support and motivation. Whether you shared your sympathy after a loss, or congratulated me on one of my Avon39 walks, my first fitness competition or for finally finding my happily ever after, the support has meant more than words can say. While I am uncertain of how LauraLovesFitness may change moving forward, I know the site couldn’t have reached double-digits without you.
I close with a final heartfelt thank you to each of you for keeping me moving on this 10-year journey. Here’s to the adventures that lie ahead of us and all the opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Don’t Let Allergies Wreck Your Fitness Fun!
The temperatures are nowhere near what I’d consider normal for May, but there are a few signs that prove we’re definitely in the midst of another spring: red, itchy eyes; runny noses and scratchy throats. Allergy season is here again and with lots of wacky weather around the entire country, many of us seize any opportunity we can to get moving outside when the sun finally breaks through. Of course, for serious allergy sufferers like me, that also means sharing the space with pollen.
Since the rain will eventually stop here in New York and the pollen counts will return to high levels in the not-so-distant future, this Motivation Monday provides the perfect opportunity to offer some timely survival tips for the season ahead:
- Smart scheduling: Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 am and 10 am. Unfortunately, that’s when many people enjoy their get-the-day-started jog, bike ride or walk. If you can move the activity to a time that’s not so pollen-heavy, great. If not, hopefully some of the following tips will make things more bearable.
- Wear shades: Wearing sunglasses can help create a protective barrier for your eyes while you’re outside. I also never step outside without being armed with eye drops. One of the first five things I do each morning is apply Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway eye drops. Using them twice a day has prevented me from scratching my eyes out even on the highest pollen count days. (While you don’t need a prescription for the drops, you may want to check with your doctor if they’re okay for your eyes – especially if you wear contacts.)
- Don’t forget your meds: In my younger years, I got weekly allergy shots for nearly a decade. Over time, they helped lessen the severity of my allergy attacks, but I’m still sensitive to all kinds of pollen. Luckily there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can provide relief. While I’ve never been a fan of taking lots of medicine, I’d rather take something for a few months to help me stay alert and active than miss out on enjoying the outdoors. Speak with your doctor about what treatments might work best for you. To prevent the onset of symptoms, it helps to take your medication at least 30 minutes before you head outdoors. If you wakeup and then workout outside, ask your doctor if taking your medication at bedtime can help.
- Clean up: When you get home, shed the pollen-infused clothes, take a shower and wash your hair as soon as possible. The longer that pollen lingers, the more severe your reaction can be. You also don’t want to spread the pollen around your home by sitting on the couch or lying on your bed.
The best survival tip I can offer to get through the season is this: listen to your body. It’s hard to say you’re doing something “healthy” if all you’re feeling during an outdoor workout is sheer misery. That’s the time to head indoors, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you turn to an air-conditioned group exercise class or pop in a workout DVD at home to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Hippity Hop To It!
Here’s hoping this Motivation Monday post finds everyone happy and healthy after a wonderful holiday weekend! Whether you’re in the midst of observing Passover or waited for the Easter bunny’s arrival, chances are your holiday was commemorated with a few treats.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration to get moving today, take a look at the empty Easter basket on your kitchen counter. Here’s a tally of the damage from some holiday favorites:
Peeps: 4 Marshmallow Bunnies = 130 cals, 0 g fat, 29 g sugar
Cadbury Creme Eggs (my favorite!): 1 = 150 cals, 6 g fat, 97 g sugar
Cadbury Chocolate Eggs: 12 = 190 cals, 8 g fat, 27 g sugar
Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny: 1 – 890 cals, 48.6 g fat, 20 g sugar
Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg (my second favorite!): 1 = 180 cals, 10 g fat, 16 g sugar
Reese’s Reester Bunny: 1 = 760 cals, 40 g fat, 72 g sugar
Brach’s Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Egg: 1 = 43 cals, 1.3 g fat, 6 g sugar
Jelly Belly Assorted Jellybeans: 35 = 140 cals, 0 g fat, 32 g sugar
For those celebrating Passover, here’s how a few menu items break down:
- Dark chocolate covered matzah: 3 pieces – 200 calories; 11 grams of fat
- Coconut macaroons: 2 cookies = 142 calories; 7 grams of fat
- Chocolate coconut macaroons: 1 cookie – 190 calories; 11 grams of fat
Of course, for many of us (including yours truly), these treats come after a heavy meal filled with traditional favorites ranging from pasta dishes to honey baked ham and potatoes. There may also be some wine or other libations involved.
Anyone who’s been following this blog for awhile will tell you the last thing I want you to feel reading this day-after-Easter post is guilty. The fact is holidays almost always include more food and drink than usual. Don’t sweat it. Instead, make some smart choices today and remember, celebrating special occasions with friends and family will always be one of the most joyous ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
It’s no secret I haven’t been here much the last couple of months. I guess my mind has been on hyperdrive since hitting the 45-year-old mark in February. I hate to say something as trite as my absence here is reflective of my own version of a mid-life crisis, but it’s a little bit of that and then some. The interesting thing is the more people I talk to at this age and stage of life, the more I realize I’m not alone.
No major event has rocked my world. Dad is getting back on his feet after a shaky fall and winter. Mom is feeling good and gearing up for her other total knee replacement surgery. My main “dilemna” has been an internal one and it boils down to a simple but seemingly impossible question that makes me reach for the ZzzQuil® on more nights than I probably should: what’s next for me?
I realize I’m lucky to be an independent contractor and even more fortunate to have the support from my fiancé and friends to continue my new and growing role as caregiver to my parents. However, the reality is I am also at a crossroads in that I know I want to find something new to do with my skills. So I’ve been vacillating between looking for more on-camera opportunities as a lifestyle host and questioning what’s holding me back from pursuing completely new opportunities in the one thing in my life that’s always kept me grounded and never feels like “work.” I’m talking about the world of health and fitness.
So as I navigate through these crossroads, I ask for your patience and some positivity. Maybe one day soon I’ll be encouraging my fellow New Yorkers to sign up for a kickboxing class taught by yours truly. Perhaps I’ll be asking for good vibes as I start new health and wellness related coursework. Perhaps this blog morphs into something bigger where I can address a wider range of topics that have seemed to take over my physical and mental well-being in this decade supposedly known as the “Fabulous 40s.” The bottom line is I am both overwhelmed and exhilarated about the opportunities I hope to find in the days, months and years ahead. I know whatever path I choose, however many times I stumble or take another detour, a good sweat will always help bring me back to the a strong starting position. Armed with that strength and the support of my readers and my entire “fitfam,” I hope the excitement will conquer the fear and keep the sleepless nights in check.
You longtime readers have been here through many ups and downs over these past eight years. As I embark on another unsure and unmarked path, I thank you for sticking around if the installments become sporadic at times. Even if you don’t find my posts here, you know the chances are you can find me tearing away at a heavy bag or searching online for the next big thing…and all the new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
My Biggest Pet Peeve at the Gym
We made it to the first Motivation Monday of spring! Now’s the time to get psyched for those outdoor workouts, new group fitness classes and maybe even splurge on some new workout wear. As we tweak our routines, it’s also the perfect opportunity to make a conscious effort to eliminate one horrible habit I see far too many people engaged in during a workout. It also happens to be my biggest pet peeve when I’m at the gym. I’m taking about texting while exercising.
Texting simply distracts even the most focused fitness fanatics. Being distracted doesn’t only lower your intensity level and lead to a less-than-optimal workout; it can be downright dangerous. According to a 2017 study published in Performance Enhancement & Health, texting during exercise:
- Impacted balance and stability by 45%, compared to not using a phone.
- Talking on the phone made balance 19% worse—less than texting, but still significant enough to contribute to injuries
Simply put, texting can raise the possibility of injury from everything from falling off a treadmill or rolling your ankle during that power walk.
Then there’s the fact that texting and taking up space on a machine is just plain inconsiderate. If something is so important that not replying immediately will put someone’s life in danger, step away from the machine, let someone else attack a set and work back in when you’re focused. Sure, emergencies will happen, but unless you’re on call as a physician or some kind of emergency responder, the world won’t end if you take 10 extra minutes to reply to a text.
If you know you’re easily distracted by that smartphone, you may want to consider signing up for more group fitness classes this spring. You’ll be forced to put that phone away for the duration of the class and you can focus on your form and intensity level. Don’t be shy about telling your family, friends and even co-workers if there’s a time of day that you’ll be unreachable. You’re making the effort to exercise and take care of yourself, so you also deserve a sliver of time that truly belongs to you. It’s having those few precious moments of me time that can help all of us be better partners, parents, caregivers and employees.
Smartphones provide tools that can help many of us in our health and fitness journey. They give us access to online workouts, heart-pumping music and apps to keep track of everything from our steps to our calories to whether we’re getting a good night’s sleep. But texts and emails shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s workout routine during any season of the year. So let’s make this the spring we stay focused on what we really need to attack our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
More Zzzzzzzs, Please
This Motivation Monday is bound to be a brighter one – literally. As we attack the first work day of Daylight Saving Time, most of us can look forward to catching a glimpse of some blue sky (albeit faded) as we make our way home after the manic workday. However at this moment, quitting time may seem like an eternity away as many of us are also dealing with what I call the change-the-clock hangover. (It gets me every year.) The good news is like all hangovers, the grogginess will eventually fade away and our bodies will get back to normal. While we wait for the fog to lift, it’s the perfect time to take stock of something that’s overlooked in too many health routines: our sleep habits.
Research shows along with helping us stay energized, sleep helps us retain information and boost our mood. Search the Internet, and you’ll even find studies linking inadequate sleep to weight gain. On a personal note, when I rack up too many consecutive nights without enough shut-eye, it’s harder to concentrate on everything from writing a script to maintaining good form for a roundhouse kick. I also find myself being annoyed by the little things that usually roll off my back.
Here are some ideas to make sure you get those all-important zzzz’s:
- Shutting Down: If you scan the Internet, you’ll find plenty of research on how watching TV in bed and using smart phones and other portable devices can be over-stimulating when your body is trying to wind down. Aim to power down at least 30 minutes before closing those tired eyes for the night.
- Exercise: Physical activity can help you sleep. However, if I exercise less than two hours before going to bed, the endorphins keep me up. Aim to wrap a workout three hours before bedtime.
- Stress: This is an area under never-ending construction in my own life. One thing that’s helped is writing down my next-day to-do list and even some long-term project ideas at least an hour before getting into bed. Putting my tasks and even a few worries “on paper” gives me a clear outline of exactly what’s ahead instead of letting my mind get the best of me while I stare at the ceiling.
- Caffeine: I am simply amazed at how some people (my fiancé included) can drink coffee at 8 pm and still fall asleep at 10:30 pm. If I have caffeine after 3 pm, I’m looking at a rough night ahead. The key is to pay attention to how your body reacts. Don’t forget to check for “hidden” caffeine in things like flavored teas and sweet treats.
- Alcohol: My repeat readers know I enjoy a glass of wine or prosecco at the end of the day. However, too much alcohol can have the opposite effect of calming the nerves and end up wrecking your night. Obviously, having a hangover in the morning is never a good thing.
So, you’ve made the commitment to workout and follow a healthy diet? Kudos to you! Just remember, your body also deserves time to rest and recharge. It’s all part of the winning formula to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
New Month, New Simple Healthy Eating Tips
On this Motivation Monday, many of us are dealing with Old Man Winter showing off his strength and the aftermath of some crazy weather from the weekend. The good news is he will eventually give up the good fight and spring will arrive. This in-between time offers a chance to take stock of your health and fitness goals for a new season. I thought I’d use this opportunity to offer three simple tips for getting those healthy eating habits in shape for the season – and all the seasons to come.
- Don’t Avoid Your Favorite Foods: All or nothing is never a good option for creating realistic longterm behaviors. Whether your weakness is wine, chocolate, cheese or chips, cutting out our your favorites altogether can lead to a binge where you make up for all or more of the servings of the treats you denied yourself for too long. While I’m not a huge fan of total “cheat days,” going a bit overboard for a special occasion or having that glass of wine after a super stressful day, isn’t going to destroy all your hard work. Remember, one “naughty” meal doesn’t mean throwing in the towel on an entire week of trying to make good choices.
- Maintain A Schedule: Habits are formed based on repeated behavior – good or bad. And studies show you can train the body to want to eat at certain times by making those times more routine. I have to eat something every few hours to stay sharp and avoid the not-so-pleasant side effects of being “hangry.” So whether I’m working from home or on location, I make sure I have a few small meal options ready to grab – whether it’s an Isagenix snack bar; fat-fee Greek yogurt and a handful of almonds or a green apple. If you are someone who’d rather eat three meals a day, try and have them at the same time.
- Add Strength Training to Your Spring Fitness Routine: I know I’m excited about getting outside for power walks and maybe hitting the tennis courts again once the weather warms up. But remember, the body needs some strength training to maintain or build muscle – which can be lost if you’re focusing on losing weight. This doesn’t mean you have to walk into the nearest gym and pick up the heaviest weights. Starting with the basics including squats, lunges, planks and push-ups – can add some solid bodyweight exercises to the mix. For an “express” option of some simple but effective exercises, click here to revisit why I love Tabata training all year long.
Do you have any new healthy hobbies you’re looking forward to trying this spring? Let me know! Sharing ideas is one of the best ways we can all keep each other on track on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
We’re Going to Make It
Well, we made it to the last Motivation Monday of February. Aside from my birthday, I admit this has always been my least favorite month of the year. (Luckily, it’s also the shortest.) It’s cold, it’s dark and everyone seems to be in hibernation mode as many of us struggle with some degree of the winter blues.
So here’s a short and sweet reminder that we’re on the verge of starting a brand new month with lots to look forward to. Some of the highlights ahead in the not-too-distant future:
- Let There Be (More) Light! Daylight saving time starts in 12 days.
- The Spring Countdown Clock Ticks Away. We’re 23 days away from the official end of winter. Who else is pumped to take the workouts outside?
- Baseball. The 2019 MLB season kicks off in 31 days. Let’s go Yankees!
- More Fruits & Veggies, Please! March means more nutrient-packed fruits and veggies are at their peak season. Now’s the perfect time to look for healthy recipes to incorporate yummy broccoli, cauliflower, endive, artichokes, grapefruits, oranges, clementines and kiwi into your diet.
- Retail therapy. Jump start the season by picking up a new pair of sneakers or bright-colored yoga pants for the not-so-dreary days ahead.
What are you looking forward to in the new month ahead? Help me add to the list of reasons why we should be excited about brighter days ahead and so many chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Some would say this Motivation Monday brings me to a mini-milestone. I’ve officially kicked off my 45th year on the planet. As I sit here struggling a bit more than usual to put my thoughts into words, I realize a weekend filled with celebrations isn’t the only thing to blame for this mild dose of writer’s block.
As each year goes by, I’m more overwhelmed by what I once thought was such a cliché. It may still be one, but it’s also an inescapable truth: the older I get, time goes by faster and faster and the memorable moments spent with family and friends grow more and more precious.
So many things happened between turning 44 and 45. Just like the 365-day span between all the birthdays before this one, some of those things were good, and others simply weren’t. There were tears of joy; tears of sorrow; doors closed while windows opened. The bottom line is things do get more complicated as we grow older. Exercise remains the one constant hat helps me handle whatever challenges life throws my way by keeping my body and spirit strong.
As I start another year, I encourage everyone to remember 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. Speaking of something new, I also wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about a website launched just last week by sportscaster Lauren Shehadi. I am honored to be among the inaugural group of women featured for the launch of SecretAdmireHER. I hope you’ll take a moment to check it out and perhaps nominate someone you know for future stories. (And a huge thank you to lifelong friend Jeanne Marie Daggett for nominating me!)
So, as I continue these first steps into year 45, I realize the road ahead can trip us up at any time. Instead of looking back, I say let’s use the lessons of the past to move toward the future and embrace every opportunity to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!