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Back in Fighting Form

Ready to Re-Focus & Get Back in Action!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

Somehow today’s Motivation Monday post marks the last one for the first month in 2018. To be honest, I’m more than happy to say good-bye to January.

My repeat readers have gotten used to my candid confessions in many of these weekly installments. Today, I feel it’s time to come clean about a truth that affects even the most fanatical of fitness freaks. Sometimes we’re just not that into the whole working out and  healthy eating “thing.” That’s the state I’ve found myself in for a good part of this month.

I can’t blame just one thing for catapulting me into this particular funk. Making the five-hour-flight transition from 82-degree sunshine in Grenada to the eight-degree tundra in New York City probably had something to do with it. The frigid weather aside, it was also time to face reality and get my career goals sorted out for the year ahead. (In addition to the “Sunday Scaries,” I find I suffer from a more serious case of the “Year-Ahead Scaries” with every birthday I face.)  On a more pressing note, it was time to replace the high-calorie drinks and snacks I’d indulged in while on vacation with my normal healthy menu items. However as the cold days persisted, it was just easier to order comfort food for delivery rather than make the trek to the grocery store (though I realize we’re talking about a three- or four-block walk) to re-stock the fridge and pantry with better options.

Then there were the nonstop reminders about turning our 2018 resolutions into reality. Whether those resolutions involved exercising more often or cleaning out the closets and getting more organized, the pressure to make it all happen simply comes at you from every angle – the TV set, the pages of a favorite magazine that’s supposed to provide a brief escape from reality and of course, the stream of each and every social media feed. All the Instagram photos of six- or even eight-pack abs and “amazing diet tricks” had me scrolling through my feed a little less. For some reason, those posts made me feel “guilty” about my less-than-healthy behavior in the new year to date. Instead of inspiring me to get moving, I had simply lost my motivation to work out. When I did exercise, I definitely wasn’t putting 100 percent into the workouts.

Then about 10 days ago, one morning turned into a couple of mornings of slowly getting back into my usual groove. I stretched more and modified my moves at ILoveKickboxing and Physique57.  I started feeling better and was able to get in my normal, sweat-infused doses of exercise. I started eating smaller, cleaner meals throughout the day and didn’t pour the second glass of wine with dinner. I finally re-stocked the kitchen with my healthy go-tos: hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, veggies, berries,  brown rice and almonds. After a few days of rediscovering my healthy stride, I started to feel better. My energy level has improved, I am sleeping better and I feel more positive about the new month ahead and beyond.

I share these not-so-optimal moments from the start of 2018 in the hopes that it helps anyone who’s feeling discouraged by not “crushing” those goals for 2018 right out of the box. It’s okay. We all have bad days or even bad weeks. But every day  offers a new opportunity to start over. Be kind to yourself and don’t downplay the good things you have done for yourself so far this year. Are you drinking more water instead of sodas or other sugary drinks? Have you added five minutes or five push-ups to your exercise routine? Did you add a few healthy items to the family menu? Are you shutting your devices down a little earlier before bedtime? If you’ve done any, all of the above or made other healthy choices this month, kudos to you!

So here’s to using these last few days of January to stock up on whatever you need – from food to fitness gear – to make February and beyond a time to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

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MLK Motivation

We kick off the third week of 2018 celebrating a very special person in our history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since that means this Motivation Monday is also a holiday for many of  my readers, I’ll offer some short yet powerful quotes from the inspirational leader to help us face whatever challenges lie ahead. Whether you’re tackling the next level of your health and fitness goals or dealing with the struggles of every day life, we can all take a cue from Dr. King to help us on our  journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”

“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

A Simple Action Plan & Words of Motivation from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Knocking Those New Year's Resolutions Right Out of the Park!

Keep Knocking Those New Year’s Resolutions Right Out of the Park!

This MLK holiday brings us just beyond the we’re two-weeks-into-2017 mark. So how are those health and fitness goals taking shape?

If you haven’t thrown in the towel on your plans to move more and make healthier choices in your diet – kudos to you! I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again: it takes at least six weeks to embrace new habits. (Just think -you’re about one-third of the way there!) I know it’s not easy being patient in our world that thrives on instant gratification.

So for this week’s Motivation Monday, I offer a super simple action plan: add just one healthy action to your to-do list for each day of the week ahead. For example:

Tuesday: Fill one shelf or bin in the fridge with reusable containers or baggies filled with chopped veggies and other grab-and-go snacks. Each day, you can take one to work or school and you’ll always have a healthy option waiting for you if you need a snack at home.

Wednesday: Take the stairs to the office instead of the elevator.

Wednesday: Wake up 15 minutes earlier to bang out two Tabatas and stretch.

Thursday: Instead of heading to happy hour, grab a friend or two and try a group exercise class.

Friday: DVR your favorite program and spend those 30 to 60 minutes enjoying some quality time with family or friends.

Saturday/Sunday: Enjoy some time with Old Man Winter with a brisk walk or if you’re lucky enough to get some snow, you can always burn some calories with an enthusiastic snowball fight!

I wrap this holiday post with the words of a very inspirational leader who we stop to remember especially today. Whether it’s tackling the next level of your health and fitness goals or dealing with the struggles of every day life, we can all take a cue from the remarkable Martin Luther King, Jr. to help us on our  journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

 

Small Changes That Add Up

photo-29And just like that, here we are kicking off the last week of January! How are those healthy resolutions holding up? If you’re starting to think about throwing in the towel, I hope this Motivation Monday post helps you get back on track.

The key is to think big but keep those day-to-day changes small. If you’re trying to shed a few pounds, remember, you want to aim to lose a healthy rate of 1-2 pounds per week. To reach that goal, try to cut 100 calories from each meal. Does that mean giving up your favorite foods? No way! Here are some ideas for small adjustments to your eating routine:

  • Eliminate that slice of cheese from your sandwich. If you do have cheese, swap out the Swiss for mozzarella. (You’ll save nearly 105 calories!)
  • Skip the fries and have a baked potato. Better yet, have a baked sweet potato for a healthy dose of vitamins A, vitamin C and B6 along with potassium, dietary fiber and niacin. (And swap out the 320-calorie cup of light sour cream for the same serving of 130-calorie nonfat plain Greek yogurt.)
  • Eat skinless chicken breast.
  • Love sweets like me? Consider these ideas: Try 1.5 oz. of fresh grapes instead of 1.5 oz. of raisins. Instead of strawberry ice cream, have 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream instead.  When you want the real thing, skip the cone and have your scoop in a cup.
  • Skip the sugary drinks and stick with water. Remember even 20-calorie drinks can add up if you have several in a day.
  • Watch the sugary coffee drinks.
  • Watch the booze intake. My repeat readers will know the every-other-drink rule is how I keep the cocktail calories in check. Have a drink, then follow up with water or seltzer before throwing back another libation. By the time you’re ready for it, you may be not want it anymore!

Now stop, smile and pat yourself on the back for all the positive changes you’ve started to  incorporate into your lifestyle. Day by day, you’re trekking along the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Sticking With Those Healthy Resolutions!

iStock_000018191976XSmallThree weeks into the New Year and here we are celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you’re lucky enough to be enjoying a long weekend, be sure to make every second count!

On this Motivation Monday, I want to offer a boost to anyone struggling to stick with those healthy resolutions. Remember, it takes at least six weeks for a habit – good or bad – to become routine. So be patient with yourself and keep taking things one day at a time. I hope the video below also offers some ideas to make this your healthiest year yet! Thanks to KIND Snacks, Oscillococcinum and S+ by ResMed for the opportunity to represent their brands and to the team at Vidicom for a great production day.

Here’s to another great week ahead filled with lots of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Big Goals & Baby Steps

VictoryWay to go – you made it to the second Motivation Monday of 2016! So, how was your first week of the New Year?

I received many inspiring messages during the week from friends around the country telling me about their health and fitness goals for 2016. Not surprisingly, the majority of those goals had to do with losing weight.

Some had a specific target in mind for shedding those pounds. Karen, for example, wants to be 25 pounds lighter by June in time for her first cruise. With healthy weight loss clocking in at around two pounds per week, she’s set a realistic goal for a six-month period. And that’s the key – keeping it real.

So I thought this would be the perfect time to offer some tips on how to keep reality in check and not feel overwhelmed by your goals.

  1. Drop and give me a plank! You’re sticking to that resolution to add 10 minutes of extra time to your daily walk. Good for you! Now drop and give me some planks to attack your core strength. Click here for a refresher video on how to add planks and other full-body exercises to your routine in just four minutes thanks to Tabata training.
  2. Start your day with the right fuel. I believe in the power of a healthy breakfast. Aim for a “clean” meal of scrambled eggs with a slice of toasted Ezekiel or other sprouted bread. On the run? Grab a hard-boiled egg or non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Extra Tip: adding fresh fruit to your yogurt is a lower-sugar option to the flavored varieties. These protein-packed options will keep you full longer than starchy, sugary items like frozen waffles or pancakes.
  3. Never leave home without healthy snacks. There’s nothing worse than going grocery shopping with a rumbling stomach or being greeted at the shopping mall with the scent of cinnamon invading your nostrils from  from the food court. What will you find in my bag? I love KIND snacks, especially the bars. They contain no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols and provide a balanced combination of healthy fats, protein and complex carbs. The bonus? They’re yummy!
  4. Out of sight, out of mind. Yes, I’m all about moderation. But I also have a hard time not going overboard when certain temptations are lurking in my kitchen cabinets. That’s why I don’t keep things like cookies or candy in the house. I freely admit I’m incapable of eating just one cookie or one piece of chocolate. I envy those who can. If you’re like me, then seriously, just don’t buy it. For the parents out there, it’s never too early to get your kids started on healthy habits. Push the apple slices and peanut butter snacks on a normal basis and save the treats for special occasions.
  5. Steer clear of quick fixes. Any diet plan that’s too restrictive is bound to backfire. I would never tell someone not to enjoy their favorite indulgence every now and then. The key is training yourself to monitor portions and make whole food choices. If you don’t, once the juice cleanse or shake-diet is over and done with and you reintroduce real food into your life, you risk going right back to consuming too many calories and the weight can creep right back.

Remember, this is NOT a sprint. Healthy choices take time to develop into habits, and those habits will continue to become a part of lifelong marathon. Celebrate each and every healthy choice you make and active step that you take as part of your effort to stay the course on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Make 2016 Your Most FITASTIC Year Yet!

imageWe made it to the very first Motivation Monday of 2016! It’s a first of many kinds for me as I’ve never sent Happy New Year wishes from the Caribbean before today. Knowing how eager people are to kick their health and fitness resolutions into high gear, I didn’t want to let another day go by without sharing some tips to help your goals take shape.

When I get home, I’ll have to reserve my barre space at Physique57 a little earlier than usual and wait longer for an elliptical or to start a weight set at New York Sports Club. I love seeing so many new faces at the gym at this time of year, but I hate the fact that usually by March, many of those enthusiastic newbies are long gone. So, I kick off 2016 with a these ideas to make those fitness resolutions stick long after Old Man Winter has made room for Spring.

  1. Leave the past where it belongs: I know we all want to erase the “sins” of the holidays that came in the form of chocolate, cheese and cocktails. Don’t  waste your energy regretting the times you overdid it last year. I have my own memories of indulging in that second piece of lasagna and too many chocolates to count. Today is a new day.
  2. Adjust your attitude:  Thinking of exercise as a “chore” is a surefire way to put the brakes on your new routine. Instead, think of exercise as “Me Time.” No matter what’s going on in my life, the time I spend working out is the one time my brain goes into neutral and the only thing filling it is some good music. Use  exercise as a break from the ordinary, and before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to sweating out whatever ails you.
  3. Reality check: Saying you’re going to exercise seven days a week is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for failure. The first day you miss, you’ll be discouraged, and could find yourself saying, “Well, there goes the week!” A more realistic approach would be to aim for a minimum of three days each week for the first month. As you start experiencing the endorphin rush and other benefits from exercising, you’ll want to spend more than three days working out. Discouragement aside, everyone should take a  minimum of one day off  each week to let the body rest.
  4. Do what works for YOU:  You woke up Christmas morning to find Santa left the latest exercise program under your tree. Meanwhile, all your exercise DVDs have been hanging out with the dust bunnies under your bed since VHS went out of style. Why not return the program and put the money toward a new pair of sneakers and moisture-wicking workout wear? Grab a friend and start those power walks or sign up for that Zumba class at your local community center. Have no idea what to try? Splurge and hire a personal trainer to get you started on the right track.
  5. Avoid severe diet restrictions: If you deny yourself something you truly enjoy for too long, it’s only a matter of time before you break down and go overboard. So, the chocolate bar you could have had last week turns into five chocolate bars, washed down with a chocolate shake and a side of cupcakes two months later.

I leave you with this reality: there will be “off” days. Even as a lifelong fitness enthusiast, there are times I simply don’t want to workout and all I want to eat is cheese and chocolate. As you read this post, there’s a good chance I’m having my first high-calorie frozen cocktail of the day. Stuff happens. Just don’t let one bad day throw you off course.  Just wipe away the crumbs, prep your gym bag and remember tomorrow is your next chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Unique Approach to Healthy Living

With Dr. Donald Hensrud, Medical Director of Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living Program

With Dr. Donald Hensrud, Medical Director of Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program

It’s always a win-win when my multimedia production world collides with my lifelong love for health and fitness. On this Motivation Monday, I’d like to share a glimpse at how that happened just last week in Rochester, Minnesota. That’s home to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, and it’s where I made a repeat visit to produce a satellite media tour for KickedUp Media Group.

I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Donald Hensrud, the medical director for Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program. The immersion program is aimed at helping people keep their health and wellness resolutions alive long beyond a few weeks or months in the new year.

Let’s face it: most of us realize the benefits of adding healthy eating habits and physical activity to our daily routines, but the tough part is sustaining those habits in the course of our hectic lives. To learn more about how the Healthy Living Program is helping people make better choices and maintain them, please click on the player window below.

Before you take a peek, I’d like to thank Dr. Hensrud and Mayo Clinic for not only making this production possible, but for creating such an innovative program to help people have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Family, Friends & Fitness

iStock_000018191976XSmallCongratulations! This second Motivation Monday of 2015 brings you 12 days into the New Year. That means you’ve done your best to stick with your health and fitness resolutions for a whole dozen 24-hour cycles!

If you’ve had one or two “bad” meals or even days since we kicked off the New Year, don’t sweat it. Nothing great is ever achieved without facing a few obstacles along the way. If you’re struggling to stay on track, here’s an idea – activate the buddy system! How?

  • Lean on a fitness friend: Pencil in some quality time with your bestie by planning a couple of morning or evening walks; shooting hoops or signing up for the same group exercise class. Sometimes knowing you have a friend waiting for you at the gym is all you need to show up.
  • Cold-Weather Hater? Try sweating through a fitness DVD or online workout with your spouse or significant other right in the comfort of your den.
  • Tech Support: Set the DVR to record your favorite show(s) and go ice skating with the kids or take the dog for an extra-long walk.
  • Friendly Competition: Instead of hitting the bar for happy hour, find a few co-workers interested in de-stressing with a barre workout or other group activity. Here in New York City, there’s a great place called Chelsea Piers which offers everything from hitting golf balls to organized group events for games ranging from dodgeball to sand volleyball.
  • Ask a Pro: Have no idea where to start? Treat yourself to a few sessions with a personal trainer to get you on the right track toward injury-free fitness.

In addition to exercise, talk to your family about embracing healthier food choices together. I’m not expecting your kids to start asking for kale and brussel sprouts, but they probably wouldn’t mind building their own colorful and yummy non-fat Greek yogurt parfaits with berries, almonds and honey drizzle. I know a lot of parents keep cookies, chips and other treats in the house and often end up eating more than the kids. Think about this: if you’re making meals at home, you’re the one ultimately shaping your kids’ idea of what a “normal” diet looks like. Packing healthy snacks for lunch and after school activities while saving sweet or salty treats for special occasions can instill healthy habits at an early age. Here are a few portable kid-approved snack options that taste pretty good to grown-ups, too:

  • One serving Wheat Thins with one “Laughing Cow” cheese spread wedge
  • Baby carrots and celery sticks with peanut butter
  • Apple slices with almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with honey
  • Low-fat string cheese

Remember, embracing healthy habits and maintaining them is a lifelong journey. Aren’t trips more fun when you have company? While it’s great to find support from the huge #FitFam presence here in the blogosphere and on social media, never take for granted the strength you can gain from the people you love most to help you stick with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

 

 

 

Let the New Year Roll On!

GenericHappyNewYearWe made it to the very first Motivation Monday of 2015!
Five days in to the New Year, I thought I’d offer my two cents to help you turn your health and fitness resolutions into lifestyle habits that will last all year-long – beyond! First, let me applaud all those who’ve decided 2015 is the year you’ll fit more physical activity and healthier food into your already action-packed schedule. Making that commitment is a huge first step toward a more FITASTIC you.
Laura’s Top Three Stick-With-It Tips
1. Break Your Big Goals Down: While I’m a firm believer in dreaming big, tackling big tasks can be overwhelming unless we establish some small steps to advance to the finish line. For example:
Daunting: “I need to lose 40 pounds by March.”
Doable: “By spring, I want to fit into my clothes more comfortably and have more energy.”
Setting an attainable long-term goal allows you to focus on what you want to accomplish today and in the week ahead. Again, make sure that focus isn’t all about weight loss. You don’t want a weigh-in steering your motivation to stay on track with healthy habits that can make a world of difference in the long run. So, instead of saying “I’m going to try to lose 2 pounds this week,” why not set one or two goals along the lines of:
1) “I will eat five servings of fruits and veggies every day this week”
2) “I am going to add 10 minutes of exercise to my day at least 3 days this week.”
This is probably a good time for me to remind you that healthy weight loss occurs at a pace of between 2-3 pounds each week. This slow and steady pace means you’re adapting eating habits that are sustainable as opposed to starving yourself or denying yourself certain foods. Fueling your body with nothing but juice and kale for six weeks as opposed to learning healthy habits about portion control and foods that keep you satiated is almost always a recipe for disaster. Once you go back to normal food, the pounds almost always find their way back to your waistline, and usually more than before.

2. Put Healthy Activities On Your Daily To-Do List. Between my iPhone, old-fashioned day planner and countless note pads in my apartment, I’m an avid list maker. I always have “Cardio at NYSC” or Physique57 Class” on my daily task lists, and it feels great to cross out the endorphin-portion of my day when it’s done. So, put “exercise” on your calendar – even if it’s “10-minute walk” penciled into your lunch hour. (Remember, 10 minutes of something is always better than ZERO minutes of nothing all day!) If it’s a rest day, put other healthy tasks on your list such as “buy produce” or “prep veggies and other snacks for lunches.” You’ll be surprised by the boost you get from crossing out something as simple as “buy bananas” on that list on your fridge. Consider it a visual affirmation that you did something good for yourself on any day of the week!

3. Be Realistic.  Enthusiasm is the key to getting anything done, but don’t let it get the best of you. If you put “work out” on your planner for seven straight days, you may be setting yourself up for failure. As soon as you miss that first day, you may think, “Well, I just blew the whole week!” A more realistic approach would be to aim for three days each week for the first month. As you start experiencing the endorphin-rush and other benefits from exercising, trust me, you’ll want to increase the frequency of your workouts. Just remember no matter how much you love working out, everyone should take a  minimum of one day off  each week to let the body rest.

Finally, I leave you with this reality: there will be “off” days. Even as a lifelong fitness enthusiast, there are days I simply don’t want to workout and all I want for dinner are wine and chocolate. It happens. Just don’t let one bad day throw you off course.  Just wipe away the crumbs, prep your gym bag and remember tomorrow is your next chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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