A Whole New World
Well, hello September. I hope this Workout Wednesday post finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe and stealing some moments of sunshine as another summer winds down. I thought I’d kick off another almost-fall season here at LauraLovesFitness with an update on how my world has changed in a way I never could have imagined.
I find it nearly impossible to believe it’s been roughly six months since New York City basically went into shut down mode. Only a few weeks before, I had decided to make a major career change and leave the world of corporate video production and hosting to become a personal trainer. When the gyms closed, I had no idea what I’d do next. I never could have imagined just a few months later I’d be using the journalism skills I learned during my years at Northwestern as part of the New York City Health + Hospitals Test and Trace Corps.
My official title is contact monitor. From Sunday through Thursday, I reach out to those who have tested positive for COVID-19 (cases) along with contacts they’ve identified. Sometimes I’m the first person to alert a neighbor he or she has been in close contact with a case. The purpose of each and every call is to conduct wellness checks, encourage the case or contact to follow the appropriate isolation or quarantine guidelines and also provide resources. That includes everything from providing the phone number for the city’s mental health hotline to setting up food or medication deliveries and informing my neighbors about the free hotel rooms available for those who need a place to isolate or quarantine safely.
It has been a challenging and rewarding experience so far. I’m able to do my work remotely, though there are other members of Test & Trace who go out into the community when multiple attempts to reach people by phone fail. Thanks to help from translators, I’ve communicated with my neighbors in many languages, including Spanish, Bengali, Russian and Mandarin. I talk to nervous parents of pediatric contacts as young as three years old and happily tell a 75-year-old case they can get back to the “new” normal on their last day of isolation or quarantine. While I do this work from my laptop, I “meet” with my supervisor and the rest of the contact monitors in my team for a virtual chat each morning. We also reach out to each other to vent after a particularly emotional call or on a day when we just need some extra support. We all look forward to the day when the 20 of us can meet in person.
As we muddle our way through a September like no other, my heart goes out to students, parents, teachers and administrators across the country who have either started or are gearing up for a first-of-its kind academic year. I also think of the gym owners and fitness professionals and those still struggling with whether they feel “safe” enough to return to their favorite workout spot. Then there are the struggling restaurant and small business owners; out-of-work Broadway actors and crew members; healthcare and essential workers; and pretty much everyone still doing their best to keep it together day after challenging day. Last but certainly not least, I think of all the victims of 9/11 and the families and friends who continue to mourn them as we approach the 19th anniversary of that horrific day.
No doubt we’re all in for a strange fall season. Here’s to hoping things improve a little each day and we simply do the best we can to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
The Test of Time
On this last Workout Wednesday of my 45th year on the planet, I find my mind swirling with questions about one thing: Time. Where does it go? How can so much of it pass in what feels like the blink of an eye while the calendar shows a much different reality?
I know this reflection began thanks to a long overdue reunion with Tracy, Lisa, Molly, Evva, Jessica and Irene: six incredible women I met on or soon after day one at Northwestern University. The impossible reality is those friendships were born 29 years ago. While our hair styles and fashion choices have (thankfully) changed since then, our hearts and souls don’t feel that much different. We may have a few more lines on our faces after decades of smiles (and tears); a few of us may need eyeglasses (and I’m the first “proud owner” of a hearing aid), but the traits that make each of us unique yet brought us together remain.
Of course, if I stop and think about the trials we’ve experienced since our Wildcat days, the heart can suddenly feel older. In the ’90s, we struggled through the stress of exams and breakups with some of our first loves. Today, we are who we are because of greater challenges: career highs and lows; marital ups and downs; childrens’ growing pains; aging parents; and the most difficult game-changer of all: the loss of parents, grandparents, other relatives and even friends. And too much thinking about the circumstances surrounding those losses, whether a longterm illness or an unexpected tragedy, only adds more wear and tear to the often fragile heart.We can’t fight the passage of time. But with each year that passes, I am all too aware of how blessed I am to wake up to each and every new day. And that’s why I am grateful I had the opportunity to spend 48 hours with the people who sometimes knew me better than I knew myself at a time when we were all trying to find our way in the world as adults.
Last weekend marked the first time in 10 years the seven of us had been together. We said our teary goodbyes with a promise we’d never wait that long again. If there’s someone you’ve been wanting to spend time with but have always found a reason not to – just do it. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Embrace the present and any opportunity you’re blessed with to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Three Years Later….
On this Motivation Monday, I find myself amazed once again about the passing of time. Here we are marching toward the end of April. It feels like just yesterday I was posting tips about setting realistic goals for those New Year’s Resolutions. Meanwhile, I’m gearing up for projects in my production world that I worked on one year ago and catching up with clients I met as many as five years ago.
Then one morning last week, as my jelly-like legs struggled to take me back home after a Physique57® workout, I was zapped with another time check: it was three years ago this month when I started the fitness program that changed my body -and my mental health! – for the better. In April 2013, my longtime gal pal Amy brought me to my very first Physique57 class, and I’ve been hooked every since. After hundreds of classes, I’ve never gotten bored thanks to an amazing group of instructors who never serve up the same workout twice. Despite being comfortable with the class format, my body is still sore as hell after a 57-minute barre workout that combines interval training, isometric exercises and stretches.
While I’d encourage everyone to try a Physique57 workout at a studio or online, the true purpose of sharing this “anniversary” is to offer proof that finding an activity you love is crucial to sticking with a fitness routine. Equally important is realizing your likes, dislikes and needs may change through the different stages of your life. During my Northwestern years and the ones that followed as I entered the working world, I had no problem working out solo and pushing myself to extremes in the weight room. As work and life grew more complicated over the years, I started gravitating toward group exercise classes. While I still do my own thing on certain days, I feed off the energy of a group dynamic. There’s something about being surrounded by the power of my fellow workout warriors pushing through seemingly never-ending planks and squats along with the positive vibes from my instructors and high-energy music.
I hope sharing my Physique57 journey to date encourages you to take stock of your own fitness routine. If you find yourself going through the motions this spring, it’s time to mix things up. If you’ve been ignoring certain muscle groups, now’s the time to get back into total body training. Sign up for a few personal training sessions so a pro can check your form and take your routine to the next level. Or do what I did and find a class that makes you feel like you can take on whatever the world throws at you. Sometimes, taking a moment to realize where you’ve been and how far you’ve come is all the motivation you need to take the next steps in your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
A Monday of Motivation & Gratitude
Well, the last Motivation Monday of the summer of 2014 has arrived!
As we get ready to start the fall season filled with new adventures, I’m thrilled to tell you about another first for LauraLovesFitness.
I met Gary Davis, the owner of HealthFitnessGenie.com via Twitter and was honored when he asked to interview me for his website. The site offers great information for people of all ages and fitness levels with articles ranging from how to hire a personal trainer to exercising proper etiquette in the gym.
Please click on the following link to read the interview where Gary and I discuss how fitness has remained the one constant that’s kept me grounded through the ups and downs of the biggest adventure known as life. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about me and perhaps get a shot of motivation to stay on track with your own goals as we head into a new season.
I close with a thank you to Gary and to all of you for checking out the interview. Feel free to share away on Facebook, Twitter and wherever else you’d like to spread the word about “team” LauraLovesFitness and HealthFitnessGenie.
Here’s to the fall of 2014 and all the chances we’ll have to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
New Adventures for LauraLovesFitness!
It’s an exciting Motivation Monday here at LauraLovesFitness!
My worlds of journalism, production and fitness all collide tonight with the debut of the Working Woman Report. The half-hour lifestyle show was created by my talented friend Allison Haunss. We met during our graduate school days at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and later worked together at News 12 Long Island and News 12 Connecticut. Now in addition to my role at KickedUp Media Group and pursuing work in the voice over world, I’ve joined the Working Woman Report as Senior Producer. I will also serve as the in-house fitness expert, which means you’ll see videos of yours truly showing people how to add some healthy moves to their lives.
The show debuts tonight at 8:30 pm ET on NYC Life, which reaches New York’s five boroughs; Long Island; Westchester; New Jersey…and beyond!
The following is a list of where to find NYC Life based on your cable provider:
- CableVision 22
- Comcast 25
- Time Warner 25
- Verizon / FIOS 25
- Over the Air 25
- RCN 25
- DirecTV 25
To learn more about the show, check out www.workingwomanreport.com In a nutshell, the stories showcase female entrepreneurs from all walks of life and how they’ve made their mark. The overall theme is aimed at empowering women to turn their dreams into reality. Since I’m always promoting how leading a healthy lifestyle can help you tackle your goals, I’m thrilled to reach a new audience about the benefits of incorporating exercise and a well-balanced diet into your daily routine.
Not in the New York area? No sweat! You’ll be able to watch my fitness segments on YouTube. (There’s a tab at the top of this page that takes you directly to the LauraDLovesFitness channel.) If you can tune in, please be sure to set reminders on your calendars or program your DVRs for future Mondays at 8:30 pm to catch more inspiring stories from some fabulous females and to see when I’m back with more fitness moves. Of course, feel free to tell your family and friends about the show and to let me know what you think!
I close with a big thank you to all my readers, family, friends and members of the fitfam who keep me keepin’ on! Here’s to all of the new opportunities that lie ahead for all of us on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Taking Some Stress out of a Monday
I know it’s nearly impossible for Monday NOT to cause some stress. Just hearing the word Monday can make even the calmest of people a bit tense. When a Monday happens to fall during an especially busy time in your already hectic life or after a whirlwind of a weekend, it can easily threaten to make the entire new week seem overwhelming.
While there’s nothing we can do to stop another Monday from coming, there are things we can do to minimize the stress levels in our lives. Along with getting more exercise, another great way to relieve stress is to get a better handle on your schedule, particularly when it comes to prioritizing items on that never-ending to-do list. I’m a big fan of lists, and I make them all the time. The one thing I’m training myself to get better at is accepting the fact that it IS okay to NOT get everything on my to-do list done in one day. That’s where the prioritizing comes in, and that’s the main reason why the bulk of this Monday’s blog post borrows motivational words from others.
After a few unexpected surprises at the end of the work week, I spent the weekend on Long Island for my Mom’s birthday. There were lots of laughs, a little shopping, some good food and good spirits and even one big Northwestern University football game to watch for added excitement. (I’m still crushed my ‘Cats lost, but they gave Ohio State a good fight!) On game day, I realized I hadn’t started a post for this Monday, and I started to stress about it. Then I reminded myself of two important things:
- Spending quality time with my family is your number one priority for this weekend (and beyond) and
- This blog is supposed to be a positive outlet for my energy – not a source of stress.
On that note, I hope you’ll forgive me for borrowing some notable quotables for this week’s Motivation Monday boost. This allowed me to spend a little less time on the computer and more time with my family. I hope the following words will help give you what you need to kick off the new week with new energy to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn
“It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.”-Amelia Barr
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror, I can take the next thing that comes along.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and repeat to yourself, the most comforting words of all; this too, shall pass.” -Ann Landers
It’s hard to believe at this time last week, I was just starting my five-day escape to Texas. The trip was everything I hoped it would be: good times with good friends from different parts of my life. The fact that I got to enjoy some much-needed 70-degree sunshine for a few days was an extra bonus!
Here are a few of my favorite things from my trip to Texas (in no particular order):
- The three-cheese Texas toast grilled cheese at 24 Diner.
- Blueberry pancakes at Kerby Lane Cafe.
- Celebrating National Margarita Day at the Hula Hut and Chuy’s.
- A simply fabulous dinner at the Driskill Grill.
- Tabata training in the Westin’s fitness center to counter some of the calories ingested in the highlights above.
- Countless laughs with my Northwestern gal pals Tracy, Molly, Evva, Lisa, Jessica and Irene! (Laughing doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as my typical workouts, but it certainly felt good!)
- The “Five Meat Treat” at Red Hot & Blue BBQ.
- “Bleeding Heart” margaritas and Baja fish tacos at Ochos.
- Sipping pre-Oscar Prosecco with my lifelong friend Jeanne Marie while her husband (and bona fide “Grill Master”) Paul fired up a delicious steak dinner.
- Getting to know their four-month-old baby Charlotte!
- Watching the end of the Oscars while sipping red wine and sitting in their hot tub.
- Rolling out of bed and burning some calories from the above-mentioned highlights in their home gym.
By now, you’ve probably noticed a common theme in my vacation-related posts: Laura loves to eat and drink! This is why I always pack the workout wear and get in a couple of calorie-busting sessions wherever I go.
However, along with the moisture-wicking gear, I also work hard at letting my vacation mindset take over when I arrive at my destination. That means realizing the opportunities for these special get-togethers don’t come around as often as we’d like and since we enjoy catching up over fun food and cocktails, it’s definitely not the time to obsess over counting calories!
After a little bit of decadence, I actually look forward to getting back on track with my normal healthy eating habits and kicking it up a notch at the gym. On that note, I encourage everyone to enjoy whatever memorable moments present themselves in the weekend ahead. Life’s simply too short not to embrace all that you love in this world. If that includes chocolate and red wine, dig in, sip and enjoy and remember, even indulgences have a place in our ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I end this week on a short note of personal reflection, but it’s one I hope many of you loyal readers can relate to.
Thanks to President’s Day, this started as a four-day work week. Then it hit me that I’d be spending even less hours at the office because of the Northwestern gal-pal getaway planned several months ago. The mini-reunion turned into the perfect excuse to take a couple of extra days off to visit another lifelong friend and her husband who welcomed their first baby a few months ago. As you read this post, I’m either watching TV in my JetBlue seat or already having fun in Austin, Texas. No doubt there will be plenty of laughs and a few cocktails involved in the extended weekend ahead!
Somewhere in the midst of my excitement, an unwelcome visitor crept in to my mind: worry. I started worrying about getting everything “in order” before I left. Specifically, I found myself worrying about writing for my blog and scheduling a few posts while I was away. On top of that, I started worrying about making extra time to burn some extra calories before what’s sure to be another high-caloric good time. That spiraled into worry over whether I’ve had a few too many of those good times lately without enough time in between to reset my “healthy living” button. Then I took out my mental sledgehammer and smashed all that worry to pieces.
These are all “issues” not worthy of a second thought. This blog is supposed to be one of my outlets. If I don’t post on Monday, Wednesday AND Friday next week, the world will keep spinning. Working out is an even bigger outlet in my life, so why in the world would I waste time and energy worrying about that? Finally, if having one too many margaritas with friends I haven’t seen in years is a problem, well, then I’ve got much bigger issues to deal with when it comes to embracing some fun in this all-too-stressed-out world!
I guess sometimes we all need to step back and realize it’s okay to let go once in awhile. Reality will be waiting for me when I get home, along with the gym and my favorite group exercise classes. For now, the workout wear is packed and I’m ready for my Texas adventures. While I’m not sure what day my next post will appear, I am certain about one thing: I’m not going to worry about it while I’m away.
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend so we can all face the new work week with even more energy to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
A Change of Scenery
I’m definitely going to lobby for more business trips on the West Coast!
While the shoot I worked on last week involved many hours of pre-production long before I ever boarded my JetBlue flight to Los Angeles and involved a detailed run-of-show, I somehow managed to feel more rested at the end of the three-day jaunt than I have in recent memory.
I think there were two things responsible for the energy boost:
- Thanks to the time change, I had to stay in California for a minimum of two nights. So, instead of rushing to the airport as soon as the shoot wrapped and hoping I’d make my flight, I had time to decompress after the work was done.
- The time change also worked to my advantage when it came to kicking off my day with a morning workout! I admit, early morning workouts here at home in New York really aren’t my thing. However, in California, I woke up without an alarm somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. So, I put that energy to good use in the hotel’s fitness center. Here are the down and dirty workouts that kept me energized on Pacific Time:
Day one – After the 5-hour flight:
- 30 minutes elliptical
- 15 minutes recumbent bike
- Squat Tabata (4 minutes)
- Push-up Tabata (4 minutes)
- Stretching: 7-8 minutes
- Total time: 60 minutes.
Day two – Pre-shoot jump-start:
- 30 minutes elliptical
- Four back-t0-back Tabatas: squats, planks, crunches & push-ups (16 minutes)
- Stretching: 5 minutes
- Total time: 51 minutes
Day three – Pre-flight
- 25 minutes recumbent bike (not my first choice, as I knew I’d be sitting on the plane for another 5 hours, but the ellipticals were taken)
- Plank Tabata (4 minutes)
- Push-up Tabata (4 minutes)
- “Crazy Eights” for shoulders: 8 reps of lateral raises, 8 reps of front raises and 8 reps of overhead presses. No rest between each exercise and no rest before moving on to next muscle group.
- Single-leg bicep curls: 12 reps each leg. No rest between switching legs or moving on to next exercise.
- Single-leg overhead triceps presses: 12 reps each leg.
- Repeated Crazy Eights through triceps overhead presses for three sets total.
- In an effort to feel as loose as possible before the flight, I spent a full 10 minutes stretching to wrap things up.
- Total time: 55 minutes
In the end, probably the best part of the trip was being able to find a balance between work and play by catching up with my dear Northwestern gal pals Molly and Jessica. We had a fabulous dinner catching up over Prosecco and seafood after my shoot was finished. Making new friends with my videographer Jake and his crew was the final bonus.
So, what did I learn from this LA experience? Even when you’re working, it’s important to find some time for yourself. Whether you’re making new friends, catching up with old ones or breaking a sweat and taking in some new scenery, no matter where you are in the world, it’s important to take some time for yourself so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Your Workout Wednesday Following Fat Tuesday
No doubt I’ll be starting this Ash Wednesday in a bit of a post-chocolate haze.
Ever since my days at Northwestern,I’ve celebrated many a Fat Tuesday with millions of other people around the world in a bit of decadent indulgence.
Since I give up desserts and sweets for Lent, I tend to “stock up” on Fat Tuesday. In my 20s, that often meant enjoying a dinner of chocolate chip pancakes with extra butter and chocolate sauce and a thick chocolate shake to wash it all down. A decade later, while I don’t ingest all that richness at one sitting, I do enjoy a few sugary treats throughout the day and some kind of chocolate ice cream concoction as the grand finale.
However, there are three reasons I refuse to be consumed by guilt over this day of decadence:
- It’s a one-time event in a 365-day period.
- For the past seven years, Fat Tuesday has fallen on the same day of the week as my favorite group exercise class. I’m just sure to kick things up an extra notch at NYSC’s Club Strength on this specific Tuesday where I tend to throw moderation out the window.
- Workout Wednesday immediately follows Fat Tuesday.
So, if you went a little overboard yesterday, consider it some extra motivation to make today’s workout count! Not sure you need to be motivated? Consider this: pancakes rank at the top of the Fat Tuesday favorite-food list almost every year. If you enjoyed this crowd pleaser at a restaurant like IHOP last night, remember each pancake weighs in at approximately 180 calories and six grams of fat. According to CalorieKing, burning off the calories in just one fluffy combination of sugar, flour and eggs would require 50 minutes of walking, 21 minutes of jogging, 15 minutes of swimming or 27 minutes of cycling. If you enjoyed a stack of four or five…well, you can do the math.
All that being said, there’s another tradition I follow pretty religiously every year on this specific Workout Wednesday. It’s the perfect day for intense cardio training. I’m talking about taking things a step beyond a “typical” 30-minute jaunt on the elliptical. Click here for a refresher on how to take things to the next level with interval training. If you haven’t tried interval training before – it’s a good day to start!
I’ll end with a common LauraLovesFitness theme: life is simply too short to deny yourself the things you really enjoy. For me, that includes chocolate, cupcakes, ice cream and red wine. On the rare occasions I do splurge and enjoy one or more of those decadent items on the same day, I simply make it a point to get back on track with my healthy food choices the next day and add some extra time to my workout. Finding a balance for all the things that bring you happiness is a challenging but critical part of our journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!