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Even Fitness Fanatics Need a Healthy Re-Boot Sometimes

A handful of people have asked me about the recent, healthy glow to my skin. So I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday post to share my secret: I just spent nine days eliminating one of the biggest toxins in so many American diets – sugar.

I made a serious commitment to eat clean and cut out some of the crap I’d let sneak back into my life a little more than I should have. That meant eliminating alcohol and dairy. (Check your food labels – many dairy products contain hidden sugars.)  After my go-to chocolate-flavored Isagenix shake for breakfast, it was nothing but clean food choices for the rest of the day: raw veggies galore, leafy lettuces, green apples, whole grains, Ezekiel bread, lean proteins (chicken and shrimp were my go-tos), hard-boiled eggs and lots and lots of water and caffeine-free herbal tea. (Yes, I even skipped my daily iced coffee fix with non-fat creamer.) I snacked smarter, too. I kept the raw almond consumption to a smart portion of 8 to 10 at a time while adding a green apple or hard- boiled egg for extra satiety.

The result? Each morning, I found myself feeling better rested than I can remember without what I call a sugar-induced fog. I also found the reflection in the mirror looking back at me with less of the puffiness than  what can appear after a night of having that extra glass of wine or super sugary treat for dessert.

As we kick off a new week, I offer this idea: – is there something you can cut out of your diet today, tomorrow and maybe the next day that’s become more of a “comfort crutch” than a nutritional necessity? Whether it’s eliminating the soda, the bread, the sweets or the booze, sometimes just a few days of being extra good can help you find new zest for the healthy habits you’ve been trying to maintain.

Will I be drinking my iced coffees and sipping Proscecco and Sangria as we continue moving into the warmer spring days? Absolutely! But scaling back once in a while to save up for a special occasion can make those indulgences even more enjoyable. There’s no time like the present to take stock of the one or two things in your fridge or pantry that could be holding you back from your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Fuel for the Day

Some of my favorite fueling options

Some of my favorite fueling options

Today’s Motivation Monday post has been inspired by the team at ETB Fitness.

Petro Martynyuk, community coordinator for the sports nutrition-based lifestyle business – which stands for “Eat the Bear”  – was kind enough to reach out to me after reading my post, Spring Fitness for Your Fitness Routine. He had some questions about the kind of fuel that energizes me before, during and after my workouts. While I haven’t tried any of ETB’s products (yet!), I’m grateful for the opportunity to share some tricks that work for me. Here’s what Petro wanted to know:

What foods do you eat pre workout? 

This all depends on what I’m doing:

  1. If I start a morning with fasted cardio, the only thing I’ll have before hopping on the elliptical machine and/or stationary bicycle and/or rowing machine for a 60-minute kick-start to the day is six to eight ounces of water while walking to the gym. I should mention I do “strip” twice during the cardio session. I take one rapid electrolyte replacement oral thin-film strip made by Sportsfood, Inc. at the start of the workout and another halfway through.
  2. If I’m taking a Physique57 class, I’ll have a green apple or some reduced-fat wheat thins with almond butter about an hour before class starts. If I need a real grab-and-go option, a banana always works in a pinch as will a serving of raw almonds and a 1/2 cup of blueberries. If I’m in a real hurry, a banana always works in a pinch. (Want to know more about the total-body, kick-butt barre-based method based program I’ve been addicted to since 2013? Click here.)
  3. For more heavy lifting, whether it’s a free-weight based group exercise class or if I’m pumping iron on my own, I’ll eat some more carbs before the workout. My go-to for that fuel is oatmeal with strawberries and/or blueberries. If I want an extra kick, I’ll stir in a teaspoon of almond or peanut butter.

What do you listen to during your workout?

I’m a firm believer that having the right music can make the difference between going the extra mile or throwing in the towel. Like my pre-exercise prep, I have different music for different workouts. Fortunately, my group exercise instructors have fantastic playlists and Spotify selections. For my fasted-cardio sessions, I need beats that keep me moving with some help from Calvin Harris, Tiesto and other master mixers. My current top three Workout Playlist favorites for cardio:

  • “Pray to God (featuring HAIM)”, Calvin Harris
  • “Let Me In (Astma & Rockwell Remix)”, Kleerup & Susanne Sundfor
  • “Comeback”, Ella Eyre

If I’m lifting, I tend to listen to music with a bit more of an edge. Because of my age and variety of music tastes, the bands that provide that inspiration range from Nine Inch Nails to Twisted Sister.

How do you switch up certain routines daily/weekly to stay motivated?

No matter what you’re doing, variety IS the spice of life. As I mentioned above, I do mix things up between strict cardio sessions, group exercise classes and one-on-one time with the iron. I’m also sure to give myself a minimum of one rest day each week to recover. Those off-days help me feel stronger physically and mentally when I do get back in the game.

What do you eat or do after your workout to make sure you got the most out of your workout?

I always make sure to cool down and stretch after my workouts. What I love about Physique57 classes is that stretches are incorporated throughout the class after high-intensity sprints.

As far as the post-workout food plan goes, I admit this area of my routine remains a work in progress. The key is getting some protein into my system as quickly as possible – preferably within 30 minutes and no more than 45. Thanks to the nutritional cleansing program I did in the spring and the maintenance program I follow now, I’ve found a protein recovery shake I really like. On most days, I’ll accompany the 8-ounce shake with a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread and almond butter.  One final food note: I make a point of trying to eat five to six small meals each day. This keeps my metabolism fueled, hunger in check and blood sugar levels on an even keel.

Thanks again to ETB Fitness for giving me a reason to make sure I’m keeping my fitness routine energized with the right fuel. At the end of the day, the right food, the right music and even the right workout wear can motivate fitness buffs of every age and fitness level stay on track with their goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

New Month = New Me

March (L) & Today (R)

March (L) & Today (R)

I love when a brand new month kicks off on a Motivation Monday! The calendar basically gives us a boost to get things started in so many parts of our lives. So, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to share the positive health journey I’ve been on since March.

My repeat readers will know I’ve never been shy about discussing the slips in my own health and fitness routine. The injuries brought on by my own stupidity. Too many days off between workouts. The extended stints of chocolate and Prosecco-filled nights out. It’s all part of who I am. However, back in March I decided to do something to give my healthy routine a reboot. Three months later, I feel healthier than ever.

Before I get into my routine, let me say this: I realize I’ve never been what any medical chart would define as overweight. However, over the last few years, I simply didn’t like how I felt. When I turned 41 back in February, I was at my heaviest weight ever and my same old routine just wasn’t giving me the energy I wanted. Today, I’m back at the weight I feel most comfortable at and have more energy to do the things I love.

Never one for extreme measures, I was able to follow a 30-day nutritional cleanse that simply made me focus on the fuel I was putting in my body. I’ll be the first to admit the idea of a “cleanse” scared the hell out of me. However, it tuned out all I was really doing was following a program that helped remove impurities from my system. For 30 days, I simply cut out anything artificial or processed which was basically anything with empty calories.  Instead, I streamlined superfoods into my diet including fish, quinoa and eggs and I even discovered a new favorite pre- or post-workout snack: toasted Ezekiel bread with almond butter.

LauraBeforeAfter4I won’t lie, I still had a few “cheat moments” during the month. However, thanks to my new focus, I realized these treats didn’t need to be part of my everyday routine because I liked how I felt being fueled by superfoods. Finally, I believe I was able to better manage my stress levels because my body was getting what it really needed.

The result: at the end of 30 days, I was down 10 pounds and lost two inches from each thigh; 1 and 1/2 inches around the hips and a 1/2 inch in my waist and arms. Numbers aside, my skin never looked better and I had more energy at a steady level throughout each day.

Since then, I’ve managed to maintain a regimen that’s kept my weight at the level I feel good at and I can still enjoy my night’s out, Prosecco, chocolate and the other treats that simply make me smile. The bottom line is this: I always write about how working out is a part of healthy lifestyle and not a hobby. The same goes for nutrition. Eating good foods and the right nutrients is crucial to improving your overall wellness.

A couple of final notes:

  1. It’s never too late to start healthy habits that can make a huge impact on the rest of your life.
  2. Don’t let others keep you from going after what you want.

If you’d like to learn more about my journey, I’m just an email away! Whatever goals you set for yourself this week and this season, here’s to making them a reality with
some help from that ever-burning desire to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!




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