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On a Mission to Be Like “Wonder Woman” Circa 1978

This Motivation Monday post is brought to you by my favorite fierce fitness chick of all time – Wonder Woman.

I was one of those little girls who simply worshipped the super hero during my childhood. Back then, I was fascinated by her tiara, her protective bracelets, that truth-inducing lasso and of course, her overall ability to kick butt in such a cool outfit. Just this past week, I joined the millions of moviegoers who’ve watched in awe as the strong and beautiful Gal Gadot brought her version of Wonder Woman to life. Now that I’m older (and allegedly wiser), I have a whole new set of reasons for idolizing this super hero even more today.

Sure, her armor and accessories are still amazing. However, what made a bigger impact on this 43-year-old fan is Wonder Woman’s display of physical and mental strength. Seriously, how cool is it that she grew up on an island where women kicked butt on a daily basis during their warrior training workouts? Each and every one of those women looked healthy and strong – not one stick figure in sight. I’m not saying you need to know how to wield a sword or shoot a bow and arrow to be fierce. (Of course, I wouldn’t object to learning some of those moves in kickboxing class!) These characters offered the reminder of just how important it is to have confidence in your abilities, build on your strengths and push them to the limit when you can.

In addition to enjoying every minute of watching Wonder Woman take on the bad guys, it was also nice to escape all the negativity in our current world. (Truth be told, looking at Chris Pine on the big screen was a pretty nice escape, too!) I realize this story was based on all the fantasy that goes into creating a comic book, but it was nice to hear the message that love and justice are what matter most and what should be the two driving factors behind our decisions. I realize it’s fantasy land, but it was nice to witness life in that world even for just a couple of hours.

Finally, I was thrilled to see the theater full of both men and women, and of course, I love hearing stories from today’s girls about how much they love Wonder Woman. There’s nothing like a super hero to remind us of the power of being fearless and never giving up on your quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Don’t Let Allergies Break Your Stride!

After a long, rainy spring here in New York and many parts of the country, I know plenty of people have been seizing every opportunity to get outside and get moving. Of course, for serious allergy sufferers like me, that also means sharing the space with pollen. Since pollen counts remain high to medium in the days ahead, I thought this Motivation Monday was the perfect time to offer some reminders on how to survive 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 sunglasses: Wearing shades (or even goggles) can create a barrier for your eyes while you’re outside. I also recommend using eye drops before you head outdoors. Also, I’m a true believer in Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway eye drops.  Using these drops twice a day has prevented me from scratching my eyes out even on high pollen count days. (Even though you don’t need a prescription for the drops, you may want to check with your doctor if they’re okay for your eyes.)
  • Don’t forget your meds: In my younger years, I got 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 offer relief. While I don’t like taking a lot of medications, 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.

As with most situations, the best advice I can probably offer is this: listen to your body. If you’re trying to do your body good by exercising outdoors but all you’re feeling is misery, be smart. Stop. Head inside, 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!

Pulling Out All the Stops

Thanks for all the support along my training walks!

We made it to the first Motivation Monday of June! It’s hard to believe we’re quickly marching toward the halfway mark of 2017. What’s even harder for my brain to comprehend is at this time in three weeks, I’ll be recovering from the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer in Boston.

As the days leading up to the weekend-long, 39.3-mile journey wind down, I’m pulling out all the stops and asking more of my wonderful readers to join the fight against this devastating disease. Every two minutes, someone in America is diagnosed with breast cancer. As most of you know, my mom was one of them. So was my dear high school friend, Liz. My mom beat the disease, but sadly, Liz did not. We lost Liz less than one month after the New York City Walk last October. A true warrior to the end, Liz’s spirit will no doubt guide me and my friend Sue as we take to the Boston streets for our fourth Avon 39 experience together.

While the ultimate goal of Avon 39 is to wipe breast cancer from the face of the earth, funds raised will immediately assist the local and national organizations that help women and men – regardless of their ability to pay- get the care they need. These programs provide everything from food and financial help to transportation and childcare assistance for patients going to treatment sessions.

I’m beyond grateful to the family and friends who’ve donated so far. Thanks to your generous spirit, I’m on the verge of breaking the $5,000 mark. For anyone who’s put off donating until later, well, later is now. It takes just a few dollars and a few minutes to make a difference. All you have to do is click here and you’ll be taken to my fundraising page. If you happen to live in the Boston area, I also hope you’ll consider supporting Sue, me and all the other pink warriors from the sidelines. A few cheers and high-fives can really make a difference!

Thank you again for all the support here and on my social media channels. It’s another reminder about the power of teamwork when it comes to our efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

Happy Memorial Day 2017!

This may be my favorite Motivation Monday of the whole year.  Not only do we pause to remember those who gave their all so the rest of us could enjoy our freedom, we also get to celebrate the unofficial start of summer.

I hope the long weekend leading up to this important holiday has already been filled with sun, fun, good barbecue and even better times with family and friends. Since I want you to get back into the fun as quickly as possible, I offer this short “wish list” for you on Memorial Day 2017:

1) Take a moment to stop and remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us could live in this wonderful land we call home.

2) Fit some fitness into your holiday fun. Maybe there’s a group exercise class you can take before heading to today’s BBQ, or take a long walk when you get home from the fun. If you’re heading to the beach, there’s no reason you can’t take a long walk and bang out some planks and push-ups right on your beach blanket.

3) If you’re enjoying time outside, don’t forget to apply and re-apply the sunscreen!

4) Whether you’re celebrating the holiday indoors or out, stay hydrated. If you plan to drink alcohol, make sure to designate a driver to ensure everyone gets home safely.

I close by wishing all my readers a very safe and Happy Memorial Day. Here’s to the summer ahead and all the chances we’ll have to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Make the Moment Yours

I guess you could call this Motivation Monday post a present. Well, it’s actually about the importance of being present where you are at any given moment. I’m talking about focusing on what’s happening right now. Not what happened fifteen minutes ago or what will happen fifteen minutes from now. This. Very. Moment.

This hit me last week thanks to a reminder from Chad Levy, a Physique57 instructor who inspires me with his energy and positivity in each and every class. I signed up for one of Chad’s classes after returning from a particularly grueling business trip. In full disclosure, I was a total stress case walking into the studio just a few minutes before it started. As if sensing my negative energy, as we started our warm up, Chad encouraged all of us to be present in the moment. He then peppered us with subtle reminders throughout the 57-minute workout.

Just a few words forced me to focus on my form and leave the “junk” from the past few days or behind. Those words also helped me think only about the thigh, glute, total body or ab exercise I was pushing through and forget about what was waiting for me in the outside world at the end of class. With that laser focus in place, I ended the hour feeling stronger but lighter at the same time, thanks to having some dead weight shaken from my weary mind.

I realize there are days when it’s impossible to have a full hour to exercise. Even if you only have ten minutes, as long as you truly focus on the task at hand – a few laps around the block; a few trips up and down the stairwell at the office; a Tabata derby in the den – being present can only increase the power of those precious minutes can have on your body, mind and soul. On a rest day, be sure to stay present in the calm moments while they last to help you deal with the not-so-calm moments that are sure to pop up later.

Remember, whether you’re sweating through a high-intensity workout or enjoying a leisurely walk with a friend, never underestimate the power a focused mind when it comes to continuing on the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

The Last One Standing

Stay true to you…the rest will follow!

This Motivation Monday post follows the same theme as that old tale about the tortoise and the hare.

I was recently reminded how rewarding it can be to be like the tortoise. In one of recent kickboxing classes, I was the last one to finish the “pyramid” during a rather intense 12-minute warm-up. Rather than feeling defeated, I felt energized knowing I maintained the integrity of my workout. I didn’t cheat by skipping a rep while sweat poured down my face and my heart raced. As we all headed to the heavy bags, I felt extremely focused and ready to tackle the high-intensity  drills and combinations.

What is the pyramid? It’s a non-stop switch-off between squats and squat thrusts. You start out doing 10 squats, then one squat thrust. Next, you move down to nine squats, and bump up the squat thrusts to two. Then you bang out eight squats followed by 3 squat thrusts, and you keep the inverse actions going until you finish at one squat and 10 squat thrusts. Out of the eight warriors starting our day with a bang, I was the last one to finish the pyramid. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t care.

This is just another example that sometimes you just have to block out the noise of comparing yourself to others to focus on your own goal. Many of my classmates, mostly women, are at least 20 years my junior. I look to these fierce fitness chicks for motivation, and there’s definitely something to be said about friendly competition, but I stop myself short of wanting to be exactly like any of them. I’d rather push my body to its own limit, knowing I maintained proper form and did the best I could do. There’s no use pushing yourself so hard you end up hurt and out of the game for who knows how long.

The bottom line is whatever you choose for your exercise routine, staying true to yourself is the best way to stay on course with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Pardon the Interruption….

If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile, you know I sometimes stray from my usual themes. This happens to be one of those  Motivation Mondays. 

Over the weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about one of the biggest challenges I’ve struggled with since turning the “Big 4-0” a few years ago: saying goodbye.

There are the goodbyes we say to our loved ones. Some will suffer from drawn-out illnesses of the body or the mind that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. Others are taken too young and too tragically to ever fully comprehend or find any semblance of “closure.” Then there are the goodbyes we say to certain places that meant so much for so long. For me, that goodbye became a reality at the end of last week. That’s when a demolition team reduced the place my parents and I called home for 37 years to rubble in a matter of hours. Even though we knew the tear-down was coming, I was overwhelmed by the sense of finality once it happened. 

It’s amazing how the heart and mind can find so much comfort in stone, brick and siding. Of course, it’s not the materials that make a house special. It’s the memories created within those sturdy walls with help from countless friends and family members who walked through the doors throughout the decades. Those special times are what made the house a beautiful home. Here are just a few of those beautiful moments for which I will be forever grateful:

  • More than 30 Christmases  
  • Learning how to swing a bat and throw a baseball thanks to the guidance of my Dad and my beloved Nonno on the front lawn while Nonna sat with a watchful eye under a shady tree.
  • Learning how to make passatini and other cooking adventures with Mom.
  • Giggling with Grandma Julia while we were supposedly napping during her visits from Florida for the holidays.
  • Getting rid of the training wheels and learning how to ride my bicycle in the driveway, with help from my “big brother” Robbie.
  • Running through the sprinklers to stay cool on summer days with my childhood gal pals, who are now my lifelong friends.
  • BBQs in the backyard and bocce matches on the front lawn.

As the list of memories grew in my mind, I realized that’s where they’ll live forever. (We also happen to have fun reminders of so many happy occasions thanks to the dozens of old photo albums that now live in my parents’ new home!) This is why I’m able to type the last words of this post with a smile on my face. Because saying goodbye doesn’t erase the past. It just helps accentuate when a new chapter can begin. And new chapters are the perfect time to re-commit the heart and soul to make the most of each and every day on this never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

*Please note, I intentionally left a photo out of this week’s post to emphasize the fact that sometimes the best place to find an image that can help the heart feel better is in the mind. 

Getting Rid of Some Extra Weight

Before the shape-up session….

On this first day of May, I’m happy to share some exciting news. I lost five pounds over the weekend.

Well, technically the process started on Friday and continued with a couple of hours of work on Saturday and Sunday. In the end, the tally may have been closer to six pounds. This transformative process was made possible thanks the power of a paper shredder and my resolve to cut out the clutter in my life.

This first Motivation Monday post of the new month is a reminder of how good it feels to get rid of those unwanted pounds that sit on your desktop and peek through the drawers and doors of cabinets around the house. They come in the form of expired coupons, statements, receipts and even those sentimental holiday cards. Even though managing everything from banking to health care is becoming an increasingly paperless experience, it’s amazing how the pounds can still sneak up on you. As the owner of a cozy New York City coop, I know all too well how good we can get at hiding them. Since my home also doubles as my workspace (when I’m not on location), if things are in order, I find I’m much more productive. When things get messy, so does my schedule. 

…and after. Ready for a productive week!

While it’s crucial to carve out some to exercise and stock up on healthy groceries, it’s equally important to find some precious moments to eliminate the clutter that can weigh down the mind. Along with the papers, that includes the pile of clothes you’ve been meaning to go through to sort out donations. It can even include the vanity in your bathroom filled with expired medications or lotion bottles with just a drop left. 

Now that spring has sprung, I encourage everyone to pencil in some time for a good mental health session courtesy of some old-fashioned spring cleaning. Side effects may include the proud feeling of accomplishment in lightening up your living space. Another bonus: when you get rid of the old, you also make room for a few new feel-good items including a couple of bright-colored duds for your workout wardrobe or even a new light-weight, smell-like-spring body wash or lotion. 

The bottom line is sometimes adding a couple of serious get-rid-of-the-clutter sessions to your healthy living routine can be a great May activity to help you stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous! 

Sugar, Sugar Everywhere!

Beware what’s in your favorite coffee drink!

Here we are in the midst of another season filled with sweet temptations. As spring slowly starts to make its appearance here in New York City, it seems like everyone is rushing grab all the sunshine they can find. This may involve adding bright-colored workout wear and sundresses to the wardrobe or shaking off the boots and slipping into cute wedges and sandals. There also appears to be a surge in sales of all those refreshing drinks that make you feel like you’re sipping on sunshine.  The problem is those sips are often loaded with more sugar than anyone needs in one day, let alone one serving.

On this Motivation Monday, I offer an important reminder that sugar doesn’t just live inside candy wrappers, cupcake shops and wine bottles. There’s also a ton of it lurking in coffee houses and smoothie bars in the form of frozen drinks that come in more flavors than nature ever intended. The short-lived run of the “Unicorn Frappucino”at Starbucks was the latest example of what’s behind every sip of so many frosty temptations. One grande whipped-cream sweet-and-sour concoction packed 410 calories; 16 grams of fat; 62 grams of carbs and 59 grams of sugar. I found it interesting the color-changing drink contained zero caffeine. (Then again, with all that sugar, who needed another jolt of energy?) Luckily by the time you’re reading this post, these drinks only continue to live on people’s Instagram feeds.

Please know, I’m not picking on Starbucks. One of my favorite treats at this time of year is a nonfat green tea Frappucino, and I’ve been known to enjoy a skinny mocha Frappucino once in awhile, too. The key is not to use a frosty coffee drink as a meal substitute. The nutritional value is next to null, and you’re almost always faced with the dreaded aftermath: the sugar crash.

Of course, some crashes are worse than others. With Easter eight days behind us, I think I’ve finally recovered from a full-blown sugar hangover. I cut out a lot of sweet treats during Lent but then went totally overboard on Easter Sunday. It started with several bowls of Cocoa Puffs before Church and by the end of the day, in addition to some great wine and pasta, I’d also devoured some homemade cake, countless chocolate eggs and a sleeve of chocolate chip cookies. So I basically made up for 40 days worth of  sugar intake – and then some. By the next day, my body was in serious sugar shock. I had a queasy stomach, a headache I just couldn’t shake and overall, I felt like a sluggish mess. 

When you get in the habit of eating whole, healthy foods, it’s amazing how the body reacts when you go off the deep end. Hating how your body feels from the damage is a great trigger for getting back on track with a diet of fruits, veggies, protein and whole grains while keeping the alcohol and dessert intake at moderate levels.

As my repeat readers know, I’d never advocate denying yourself the things you enjoy. Whether it’s a bacon burger with a side of cheese fries; pepperoni pizza and beer or even a couple of those large, frosty coffee drinks, we all deserve to splurge once in awhile. They key is to make sure those treats stay in their own “special occasion” category. The key is to keep it all in check, and know one good workout and one day of healthy eating is all you need to get right back on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Hippity Hop To It…

I guess you can blame this late Motivation Monday post on the Easter bunny. More specifically, I blame it on recovering from a sugar hangover after going a little overboard on the Easter treats.

Whatever holiday you and your family have celebrated during the past week, I hope it’s been filled with family, friends, laughter and of course, good eats! Speaking of food, in case you need a shot of inspiration to get moving today, here’s a recap of how some of the popular holiday favorites register on the calorie scale:

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

Of course, for many of us (including yours truly), these treats come after a carb-loaded 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!

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