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9/11: 15 Years Later

img_2647I hope you’ll forgive this diversion from my weekly dose of Monday Motivation. It’s hard for me to write about healthy snacks or fitting fitness into your back-to-school schedule when my mind has been flooded with memories of the day that changed our world forever. At some point this past week, I simply lost count of how many times I uttered or heard the phrase “I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since 9/11.”

Time may march on, but each year the memories are just as vivid as they were on that bright, beautiful day in 2001. I remember the shock, the silence and then the chaos that erupted in the News 12 Connecticut newsroom where I worked as a reporter at the time. I remember the nonstop news coverage and the countless live shots from the Fairfield train station. That’s where a triage team waited to treat injured survivors – only to look more and more despondent with each passing hour that none arrived. It’s also where I interviewed people with dust on their clothes, still in shock from what they had escaped in lower Manhattan. I remember calling my parents to tell them how much I loved them. And I remember the phone calls I received from panicked friends who wondered if I had any information about people working in the World Trade Center.

In the days that followed, I met too many people who lost people they loved. I learned Glen Pettit, one of my News 12 Long Island colleagues and a NYPD officer, was killed. I held back tears while interviewing people who held on to the hope a son, daughter, husband or wife would return home. I held back tears while speaking with members of the Stamford fire department who wanted to do more to help their brothers in the city. In the fleeting moments when I was alone, I let the tears flow freely. Yet in the midst of the sadness, fear, anger and confusion, I also remember people treating each other with kindness and banding together in a way I’d never seen before. Quite frankly, I haven’t seen it since.

Yankee Stadium: 15 Years Later

Yankee Stadium: 15 Years Later

Fifteen years later, I found solace going to Mass before taking the subway to Yankee Stadium. I originally felt somewhat guilty accepting the tickets my Dad offered for this game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. However, I came to realize doing something I loved on a sunny Sunday afternoon was a testament to the fact that our American way of life survived that terrible day. It turns out, the Devil Rays were the team the Yankees played two weeks after 9/11 as the nation tried to return to some semblance of normalcy, which included resuming the season for America’s pastime.

Before the start of yesterday’s game, with tears in my eyes and pride swelling in my chest, I witnessed a moving ceremony featuring the booming sounds of the NYPD Emerald Society’s Pipe and Drum Corps. I watched Yankees manager Joe Girardi shake the hands of wounded veterans from Walter Reed Hospital who were honored in front of home plate. I listened to the powerful voice of firefighter Frank Pizzaro as he belted out our national anthem while New York City’s bravest unfolded an American flag in center field beside the Port Authority Police Department’s Color Guard. I cried, I applauded and then as I cheered for the Yankees through what turned out to be a loss, I thought: the human spirit is a truly amazing thing. And it is in times of sorrow and struggle that banding together makes us stronger than standing alone. So in the company of that packed stadium, I found another way to honor the promise made 15 years ago…we will never forget.

God Bless America.


Fitness for a Cause

Push-Up: One of my Tabata training faves

Photo by Lauren Bachner

This Motivation Monday post will be a short and sweet reminder that fitness can be used for so many good reasons. In addition to keeping the ticker in tip-top shape and helping us maintain a healthy weight, it’s also a great resource to get people involved in good causes.

Last Monday my fellow St. Mary’s Gael, Danielle, nominated me to take part in the 22 push-up challenge. The goal is to bang out 22 push up for 22 days to honor those who serve in our military and raise awareness about suicide among our nation’s veterans.

I think the push up is of the most empowering full-body exercises anyone can do. Getting through them knowing you’re bringing attention to an important issue only adds to the endorphin rush at the end of the set. If you follow me on social media, you may have seen the past week’s worth of push-up videos. Below is a link to my favorite one of the week when I dropped and did my 22 at the Yankees game on Saturday afternoon.

If you want to make sure I’m keeping up my end of the bargain, I hope you’ll check out my LauraLovesFitness Facebook page and Instagram account (@FitnessLaura) to watch my daily videos. And if you’ve been looking to add a kick to your fitness routine this spring, why not consider going the distance for our veterans. You’ll find all the rules for the challenge at

So, who’s up for the challenge? Remember, breaking a sweat for a good cause is one of the best ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!



Play Ball! (Or Tennis, or Golf, or….)

Bring On Another Championship Season!

Bring On Another Championship Season!

There’s definitely an extra spring in my step today.  Along with riding a residual sugar rush from my annual Easter candy splurge, it also happens to be Motivation Monday and opening day at Yankee Stadium! Not wanting to ignore the “other” New York baseball fans, I should mention it’s also opening day for the Mets at CitiField. (Of course, whoever’s responsible for having both games start at 1:05 pm ET on the same day should not be in charge of scheduling next year.)

Even though many of my beloved Yankees are starting this year sidelined thanks to a range of injuries, I’m going to stay positive that they’re back in action in time to make this another championship season. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with an injury of your own in the “off-season” and just returning to your fitness routine. If that’s the case, remember to start slowly and listen to your body. (Make sure you’ve cleared any activity with your doctor before you get started.) Remember, it’s better to sit out a few first games of your softball league than risk a serious injury that could bench you for the season – or worse, secure a trip to the operating room.

My short and sweet message for this Motivation Monday is to use it as another reason to get active. If you’re sick of the treadmill, then think about pounding the pavement in your neighborhood for a morning or post-work run. Maybe this is the year you get the tennis racquet re-strung and find a friend for a few sets during the week. It may not be quite warm enough for the beach yet, but there’s no reason you can’t find an outdoor volleyball net in a park and get a group together for some post-work de-stressing or weekend fun.

If you can’t figure out a way to coordinate schedules with family and friends for a team sport, then take that jump rope outside and start skipping. Park benches are also perfect spots to brace yourself for push-ups or take box jumps to a different level. Tree branches (sturdy ones!) are also the perfect prop for pull ups. If you really want to have some fun while breaking a sweat, don’t underestimate the power of swinging on the monkey bars at the local playground. There’s also no rule that says you can’t bang out some Tabatas in the great outdoors.

As we get ready to tackle another work week, remember, now’s the perfect time to embrace each minute of extra sunlight and add some extra outdoor activity to our typical routines. It’s all part of the overall game plan to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Even the Mighty Fall

The Game Must Go On!

Anyone who’s known me for a long time will tell you along with health and fitness, one of my biggest passions is following the New York Yankees. My dad’s been taking me to games since I was six-years-old, and I’m very lucky to have witnessed some of baseball’s most memorable moments while cheering from my seat at Yankee Stadium. When the Yankees make it to the postseason, it makes October that much more fun. That includes the nail-biting moments and sleep-deprived nights.

Game one of the American League Championship Series was one of the toughest postseason nights I can remember. During the four hours and 54 minutes of play, I watched my beloved Bronx Bombers come back from a 4-0 deficit by tying it up in the 9th inning, only to fall apart and lose 6-4 in the 12th. However, the biggest loss wasn’t the one reflected on the score board. It happened when Yankees shortstop and captain Derek Jeter went down lunging for an infield hit – and stayed down. The collective gasp of the crowd sent shivers down my spine.

Jeter always gets up. I remember the game at the old Yankee Stadium when he dove into the seats to catch a foul ball and returned to the field with a bloodied face. He’s also known for pushing through the pain and playing with injuries ranging from bone bruises to tweaked muscles. Yet, here he was down in the 12th, and he couldn’t stand up. When I saw he couldn’t even put weight on his left leg as manager Joe Girardi and athletic trainer Steve Donohue helped him hop off the field, I knew it was bad. Sure enough, the grim news soon broke that Jeter had fractured his ankle. He’s done for the postseason and will spend at least the next three months healing.

Call me crazy, but while Yankees fans continue to digest the bad news, there’s also something I know for certain: Jeter will be back. This wasn’t a career-ending moment. It was a setback, but being the amazing athlete and gifted baseball player that he is, I have no doubt he’ll come back swinging, literally. Okay, I realize making millions of dollars is a pretty big incentive to get back in the game, but Jeter also possesses a determination and drive that has gotten him where he is, and it’s what will get him back in the game.

We may not be big-time sports stars, but each of us possesses the same power within. We just need to remember to harness it when the unexpected happens. Whether it’s an injury that sidelines your fitness goals or a painful moment in your personal life that throws your best-laid plans out the window, it’s important to accept the event has happened; work through the emotions that follow; allow yourself to heal and never lose sight of the fact that there will be better days ahead. In other words, the game must go on.

I’ll be cheering on my Yankees for the remainder of the postseason and following updates on Jeter’s recovery when it’s over. During that time, I have no doubt there will be unexpected challenges that pop up in my own life. The good news is I also know I have the power to rely on my inner strength to push toward the happier days filled with new opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

An Unexpected Swim

I had been looking forward to spending this past weekend in Boston since I bought my Amtrak tickets back in February. Getting tickets to the Red Sox v. Yankees game for my first-ever visit to Fenway Park and seeing my beloved Bronx Bombers beat their rivals in a comeback of epic proportions was a bonus. Earlier in the day, I got to enjoy another first-ever visit to Harvard University’s Blodgett Pool. Thanks to a gracious invitation from the friend of my lifelong friend, Ania, I was able to enjoy a pool-deck view for Boston’s inaugural team relay challenge for Swim Across America.

The event brought swimmers of all ages and skill levels together with one common mission: “making waves fighting cancer.” For two hours straight, the swimmers dove into the pool striving to be on the team making the biggest splash in the fight against pediatric cancer. The proceeds from this event benefit the David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

with US Olympic Silver Medalist Janel Jorgensen

As I watched the swimmers and cheered them on from the pool deck (luckily, no one threw me in despite my Yankees gear), I found myself in awe of their stamina and mostly of their determination to make a difference.

Before the relay started, I was fortunate to meet a woman named Suzanne. She started swimming less than a year ago and here she was swimsuiting up and making a splash in the fight against cancer. I also had the joy of meeting 1988 Olympic Silver Medalist Janel Jorgensen who has been the Executive Director of Swim Across America since 2005. Also on the pool  deck was Craig Beardsley, who would have most likely won gold at the 1980 Olympics had the US not boycotted the summer games in Moscow. Then there was Kitty, who aside from directing volunteers in their tasks that morning also spent countless hours helping organize the relay’s details before diving in with the other swimmers.

While the swim relay spanned a few hours, it’s really impossible to clock the amount of behind-the-scenes prep time leading up to events like these. Between the fund raising, training and hammering out  all those pesky little details, the swimmers and organizers reminded me how a passion for swimming, running or any kind of physical activity can do so much more than get the heart pumping. Using that passion to raise awareness and money in the fight against cancer is one of the best ways I can think of to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Play Ball!

Spring Has Sprung!

This is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s the day my beloved New York Yankees play their home opener in the Bronx.

This day makes me feel like spring has officially sprung. That means it’s the perfect time for me to encourage anyone looking to be more active to use the season to your advantage. No more excuses – Mother Nature is giving you the ideal backdrop to get out and get moving!

I know I’m a gym rat. I also know there are people who just don’t like to go to the gym. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get some exercise and feel great!

We’re supposed to enjoy near 70-degree temps here in New York over the weekend. So, there’s no excuse not do any or all of the following:

  • Take a hike: I mean that in the nicest way possible.
  • Take a walk: You can do double-duty and make up for some overdue catch-up time with a friend by taking him or her along for a brisk jaunt around your neighborhood.
  • Hit the park: You don’t need a gym to do squats, lunges or even burpees. Use a bench for box jumps. Heck, go climb a tree!
  • Hit the beach: If you’re a beach bunny like me, it’s never too early to get near the water! Wear or bring an extra layer of clothing to keep the spring-breezes at bay and hit the boardwalk. For an extra challenge on an uneven surface, take your feet to the sand.
  • Hit the playground: Be a kid again! Swing on the monkey bars or use them for pull-ups.
  • Play some pick-up: Get active and make new friends by shooting some hoops.
  • Try a new racquet: Do you have a tennis racquet collecting dust in a closet? Dust it off and hit the court.
  • Turn fantasy into reality: Forget make-believe baseball – get some friends and get on the field!

Wherever you live and whatever your pleasure, I hope Mother Nature smiles on you this weekend so you can find some new opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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