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A Not-So-Typical Motivation Monday

I hope you’ll forgive my wandering off the normal Motivation Monday path, but I’ve spent the past week swimming through a sea of emotions.  Those feelings fueled some extra intense workouts, and I now find them guiding my fingertips on this keyboard as part of what could be considered my attempt at a mental-health workout.

On Friday, my parents & I said good-bye to a dear friend and someone I’ve considered the guardian of my spiritual health and well-being since I was a kid. I was in the second grade at St. Mary’s in Manhasset, New York when we first met the Reverend Ralph Ferro. As I was just a child, I couldn’t tell you the specific date or time when we all grew close, but it happened somewhere between my father caring for Father Ralph and his family as patients and the countless Christmas dinners he spent with us even after his parents and his brother passed away.

Through the decades we knew each other, he celebrated a gamut of monumental events ranging from my cousin’s wedding to my best friend’s dad’s funeral. He celebrated my own wedding, and later counseled me through the divorce and even the painful annulment process. He shared in my joy when I found love again and shared in my sorrow when it didn’t work out. He prayed for my parents when they went through health scares and surgeries. He prayed when we mourned the loss of loved ones to cancer, old age or unexpected tragedies. No matter what was happening, I could turn to Father Ralph who either face-to-face or through the phone line would tell me, “It’s gonna be okay, kid. God loves you. So do your parents – and so do I.”

At his funeral, a fellow priest described Father Ralph as a “diamond in the rough.” My parents and I – along with many of the people who filled Holy Spirit Church to say good-bye – couldn’t help but  chuckle in agreement. He didn’t look like a “typical priest,” but under his unique character was a true heart of gold. It was that heart along with his faith that led him to counsel people many of us would rather forget – prisoners in the Nassau County jail system. Sadly, that big heart stopped beating at the age of 71 – not even a month after we shared another memorable Christmas together.

While the news of his sudden death shook my parents and I to the core, it also reminded me of something so simple and so important, yet all too often forgotten. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, here it goes: Our time on this earth is far too short to put off living for one more day.

So if you’ve been meaning to make changes to follow a healthier lifestyle in the hopes of being on this earth as long as your body will let you, start today. On the flip side, if you don’t want to workout today because you’d rather spend that free hour visiting with the friend or loved one you haven’t caught up with in far too long, then don’t. If you’ve been denying yourself the indulgence of a certain treat, have it. If you can’t remember how a petty disagreement stopped all communication with a relative or friend, pick up the phone and start making amends. I’m not saying to spiral into an abyss and abandon all sense of order in your life. However, there’s no time like the present to stop delaying happiness when the opportunities to embrace it exist right in front of our eyes each and every day.

If there’s some semblance of motivation to be found amidst these 600 words, maybe I offered a push for you to think about doing the one thing you’ve put off for far too long. Sometimes we all need a  reminder to enjoy each moment and live as if today was our last chance to have fun, be fit & feel fabulous.

Back to Reality

Tiffany, Ania & I burned some calories keeping warm in the cold!

Tiffany, Ania & I burned some calories keeping warm in the cold!

No, I didn't work out here, but had to stop for a photo!

No, I didn’t workout here, but had to stop for a photo!

I know I tend to offer a shot of motivation on Mondays. On this particular Monday, I have to say I feel more motivated than I have in recent memory. All it took was a trip to Amsterdam.

Whether you hop on a plane and fly across the Atlantic like I did or getaway for a few hours to a spa or even a quiet restaurant with a special someone in your life, there’s something to be said about escaping the realities of our everyday lives.

For me, that escape included forgoing my normal typical daily high-intensity workouts to relish in daily walking adventures in a beautiful, new city. We visited museums; sampled the local flavors in various cafes; boosted the economy with trips to flea markets and shops; escaped the cold on a heated canal cruise and then braved the frigid temperatures to see some windmills up close.

LauraLovesFitness..and chocolate & banana pancakes!

LauraLovesFitness..and chocolate & banana pancakes!

My escape also included hot chocolate, chocolate waffles, chocolate and banana pancakes (are you sensing a trend here?), some of the most amazing breads and cheeses I’ve ever had, Amstel and Heineken on draft and other libations that kept the bone-chilling temperatures from making things too uncomfortable. Last but certainly not least, there were countless laughs and lighthearted conversations with my gal pals – one of whom is among the special few I’ve had the joy of knowing since childhood.

You could say I “abandoned” my normally fit New York lifestyle to embrace a different approach to healthy living in Amsterdam. This is a city where people actually sit down to drink a cup of coffee and it’s not easy to find a to-go cup. It’s a place where people walk or use bicycles to get from points A to Z on a normal basis and where many shop owners don’t open their business until Monday afternoon – and still close at 6 pm. Compared to the incessant frenetic pace of my city that never sleeps, this vacation was a welcome respite.

All smiles over real hot chocolate!

All smiles over real hot chocolate!

Don’t get me wrong. I love being a native New Yorker. However, I just can’t stress enough the importance of taking a break from the ordinary every now and then. When I am home, that break involves hitting the gym to let go of the stress from the daily grind. After time, my body and my mind need to escape from that routine, too.  Throw in some real chocolate and other delicious treats, and I definitely like I’m away. I also believe that sometimes you need to be a little bad to get back to being good.

So, as we tackle a new week, I do so with a renewed love for my “routine” breakfasts filled with berries and lunches complete with chopped veggies.  Thanks for sticking with me while I was away. If you have questions or topics you’d like me to address in the weeks ahead, don’t be shy! I look forward to seeing where the next part of the adventure leads on our never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Good food, drinks & conversation offered some fitness for the mind!

Good food, drinks & conversation offered some fitness for the mind!

Finding Ways to Help

As someone who loves to write, it’s been difficult for me to really put my emotions surrounding the events of the past 12 into words.

As so many people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut continue to try and literally rebuild their lives after Sandy and the added stress of this week’s Nor’easter, I’m providing a few links with  information on some of the ways the rest of us can help.

Whether you live in the New York area or around the country, hopefully you’ll be able to use some of these ideas to chip in and lend a helping hand.

  • The season may be over, but you can help the Yankees and Mets score big by helping those affected by Sandy:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/mets-yanks-part-sandy-article-1.1197287

  • WCBS 880, the all-news radio station I listen to while getting ready for work every morning, offers this list of organizations that need help and ways to get involved with them:

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/top-lists/disaster-relief-information-resources/

  • There are approximately 90 Modell’s stores throughout New York. Most  are accepting clothing donations along with toiletries in partnership with WPLJ radio and Goodwill of New York and New Jersey. Click the link below for a list of store locations and the items needed most, such as coats, scarves, gloves, toothpaste, toothbrushes and baby wipes).

http://plj.com/Article.asp?id=2567748&spid=25206

  • One fitness-related note, all New York Sports Clubs locations remain open to anyone affected by the storm who may need a place to shower, charge a phone or even de-stress a bit with a workout.

http://www.mysportsclubs.com/regions/

Thanks again to all of you who’ve sent me messages asking how my family and friends fared after the storms. Again, I was very fortunate throughout the storm and while my parents remain in the dark on Long Island, they’re safe. My prayers remain with those who continue to struggle and wish them some moments of peace in the weekend ahead.

To end on a lighter note, I also want to thank all of you who’ve supported me in the Face of Fitness contest for Fitness Magazine this week. Voting continues through Sunday and even if you’ve voted already, you can vote every day until November 11th. Click here to cast your vote.

To all of you who support this blog and all my efforts, I wish you a wonderful weekend filled with plenty of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Vacation Friday Fun!

Vacation Time! Wishing everyone a great week!

TGIF!

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!

Getting Back On Track

It’s been an unprecedented week for most New Yorkers with an earthquake and a hurricane taking a bite out of the Big Apple.  As I made my way through my elliptical workout this morning, while my iTunes played in my ears, my eyes were glued to the TV monitors around the gym as live shot after live shot described all the preparations for Irene’s arrival.  Afterward, my usual Saturday errands were replaced with a hunt for batteries, tape and water. (Luckily, I found everything I need.) Now, I write this post not knowing how many people will be able to read it on Monday should we experience the major power outages predicted. As we brace for the storm, I realize this is a perfect example of how the best laid plans can be altered at any given moment and throw off our normal schedules – and that includes our exercise routine.

Weather aside, I just wrapped up a week filled with many unexpected happenings.  Most involved work, and a string of events forced me to stay at the office much later than expected for not one, but three nights in a row. This ultimately killed my workout schedule, with the worst of it meaning I had to scrap my favorite group exercise class of the week. I was also on my own at home, which threw off my eating schedule. I found myself giving in to my old, bad habit of not having small, smart meals every few hours and then ending the day eating almost nothing for dinner. (One “Lean Pocket” and a tall vodka-light-cranberry on the rocks is not what the body needs after a long day at the office.)

So, you could say I fell off the fitness wagon. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and I know it won’t be the last. Do I feel more sluggish this weekend? Absolutely. Will this feeling last forever? Absolutely not! Instead of beating myself up about all the “bad” things I did last week,  I look forward to starting a new week with a brand new attitude and plenty of chances to take better care of myself.  Just like Hurricane Irene, the storms that sometimes make a mess of our everyday lives do pass. (For me, exercise is a great way to deal with the aftermath.)

The next time your best laid plans to follow a healthy lifestyle hit a tailspin, don’t sweat it. Just remind yourself of why you’re doing it in the first place, and before you know it, you’ll be back on the right track so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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