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Don’t Let Allergies Break Your Stride!

After a long, rainy spring here in New York and many parts of the country, I know plenty of people have been seizing every opportunity to get outside and get moving. Of course, for serious allergy sufferers like me, that also means sharing the space with pollen. Since pollen counts remain high to medium in the days ahead, I thought this Motivation Monday was the perfect time to offer some reminders on how to survive the season ahead.

  • Smart scheduling: Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 am and 10 am. Unfortunately, that’s when many people enjoy their get-the-day-started jog, bike ride or walk. If you can move the activity to a time that’s not so pollen-heavy, great. If not, hopefully some of the following tips will make things more bearable.
  • Wear sunglasses: Wearing shades (or even goggles) can create a barrier for your eyes while you’re outside. I also recommend using eye drops before you head outdoors. Also, I’m a true believer in Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway eye drops.  Using these drops twice a day has prevented me from scratching my eyes out even on high pollen count days. (Even though you don’t need a prescription for the drops, you may want to check with your doctor if they’re okay for your eyes.)
  • Don’t forget your meds: In my younger years, I got allergy shots for nearly a decade. Over time, they helped lessen the severity of my allergy attacks, but I’m still sensitive to all kinds of pollen. Luckily there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can offer relief. While I don’t like taking a lot of medications, I’d rather take something for a few months to help me stay alert and active than miss out on enjoying the outdoors. Speak with your doctor about what treatments might work best for you. To prevent the onset of symptoms, it helps to take your medication at least 30 minutes before you head outdoors. If you wakeup and then workout outside, ask your doctor if taking your medication at bedtime can help.
  • Clean up: When you get home, shed the pollen-infused clothes, take a shower and wash your hair as soon as possible. The longer that pollen lingers, the more severe your reaction can be. You also don’t want to spread the pollen around your home by sitting on the couch or lying on your bed.

As with most situations, the best advice I can probably offer is this: listen to your body. If you’re trying to do your body good by exercising outdoors but all you’re feeling is misery, be smart. Stop. Head inside, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you turn to an air-conditioned group exercise class or pop in a workout DVD at home to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Summer Emergency 411

medinsigniaThis is a first-of-its kind Motivation Monday for me. It isn’t a series of killer workouts or late-nights out that have me extra wiped at the start of this new week. What makes this day so different is it’s the first Monday in 37 years that my parents have a new address. Helping Mom and Dad move out of my childhood home was probably the most physically and emotionally draining experience I can remember. Now the move is over, but the unpacking begins.

So, after a grueling week featuring some ridiculously hot days, I hope you’ll forgive this reboot of a post offering some timely reminders about how to recognize heat-related illnesses:

Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs or abdominal region, that could be a signal that a more serious emergency is imminent.

What to do: If you experience heat cramps, stop exercising immediately. Find some shade or move indoors where it’s cool and drink water.

Heat exhaustion: This is more severe than heat cramps, and can occur when you’ve been exercising strenuously for a long period of time in extreme heat or humidity. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Moist, pale, or cool skin
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Nausea
  • Weak pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen all tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels, but not to the point of shivering. Also, be sure to get some cool water into your system.

Heat stroke: This is the most severe heat emergency and usually happens when signs of heat exhaustion go unchecked.  In this situation, dangerously high internal temperatures will cause your body’s vital systems to fail.  Signs and symptoms include:

  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Little or no perspiration
  • Weakness
  • Rapid pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels. If you can find them, you can also put ice packs under the armpits and groin area.

Now that we’ve identified the emergencies, here are a few reminders on how to keep them from happening in the first place:

  • Try to exercise outdoors before 9 am and after 6 pm.
  • Stay hydrated! Basic guidelines call for you to drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise, but you can drink an additional eight to 16 oz  if you’re exercising in warmer weather. Personally, I simply have water with me at all times and take a sip or two whenever I rest between sets or just stop for a breather.
  • If you have cardiovascular or circulatory problems and are taking medication, always check with your doctor before adding any outdoor activity to your routine.

I leave you with two important tips:

  • Always call 911 in an emergency.
  • Listen to your body. It knows when something’s wrong.

Don’t let this post prevent you from soaking up the summer season by working out and hanging out in the great outdoors. Just remember to keep the water bottle full and use a little extra care move ahead with your summer plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Gearing Up for a Fun, Fit and Fabulous Summer!

BeachI hope this rare Tear-It-Up Tuesday post finds everyone doing well after a safe and Happy Memorial Day weekend! Now that we’ve unofficially kicked off the summer of 2016, I thought I’d offer three quick tips to get your mind and body ready for my favorite season of the year.

  1. Stretch, stretch and stretch some more! Whether your new routine involves outdoor boot camps or beach volleyball games, a lot of us are using some muscles that haven’t seen some action in awhile. Be sure to stretch and stay hydrated to keep the aches and pain to a minimum and help prevent injuries.
  2. Don’t ignore the core! Many of us are breaking a sweat on unstable terrain so it’s important to keep the core muscles strong to maintain good balance and prevent falls. Whether you’re running, swimming or playing a game of pick-up, taking five extra minutes to add some planks and crunches to your routine can keep your center of gravity strong and keep you on your feet!
  3. Time for new kicks? I believe every should replace their athletic shoes every six months to make sure you have solid support for your activities. If you’re buying a new bathing suit or other summertime gear, why not add a new pair of sneakers to your closet, too?

Looking for a few tools to help with your summer of fitness fun? The three-minute below offers a few ideas. My thanks to Me + My, Arnicare and Halo for giving me the opportunity to be the spokesperson for their products and to the team at Vidicom for another great production. After you check out the video, get out there and enjoy the abbreviated work week and all the opportunities  ahead to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Park Bench Workout Encore

Outdoor picIt seems everyone here in New York has definitely caught the get-outside-and-workout bug. This Motivation Monday comes after a sunny, mild weekend and temperatures should be in the mid to upper 60s all week. Add the fact that we have sunlight till around 7 p.m. and you have all the inspiration you need to try something new. Maybe this is the week you ditch the same old indoor routine for just one day so you can get outside to get moving!

If you’re looking for something to amp up or compliment your normal run or brisk walk, here’s a second look at one of my favorite outdoor workouts.

  • What you need: your body weight, a park bench and water.
  • What you’ll get: a good sweat and a reminder to use Mother Nature as a motivator in your ongoing efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Feel Like a Kid Again!

photo-3Despite a chilly wind over the weekend, I think it’s safe to say spring has finally sprung here in New York City. That means it’s time to really embrace a whole new season of opportunities to mix up the fitness routine. For me, it’s meant getting back to a sport that was my one true focus on high school – and it’s done wonders for my physical and mental well-being!

I recently re-connected with one of my high school gal pals, Rita Joan, who was also a teammate on our high school’s varsity tennis team. We had the joy of being varsity champs in our division during our senior year in 1991! However, I’m sorry to say when I went off to college, I didn’t really keep up with the game. Then after I finished graduate school, my tennis racquet followed me to several states for several jobs, but all it really did was collect dust in the back of a closet. I think I managed to play a game now and then on various vacations, but that was about the extent of keeping up with my skills.

Then just last week, thanks to Rita Joan’s coaxing, I was trying to find my old stride to hit some solid forehands and backhands on a clay court in the middle of Central Park. It was probably the nicest evening we’ve had in the city since winter finally left town, and being in an oasis amidst the concrete jungle seemed surreal. Even better was the adrenaline rush I felt running from side to side on the court, and putting my body behind those shots to get that little yellow ball over the net. To say I was rusty would be a huge understatement. Still, it felt so good to get back into a sport that I absolutely loved playing in my younger days – and I was also glad to find my skills weren’t completely gone. They’ve just been on hiatus waiting for a spark to reignite them into high gear.

The next day, I was sore in places I hadn’t been for awhile – the heel of my hand hurt from gripping the racquet, my shins and forearms were tweaked and even my obliques were more tender than usual. The soreness felt really good because it was a sign of re-awakening parts of my body that had maybe been ignored for awhile on my fitness circuit.

I am beyond grateful Rita Joan got me back in the game and I can’t wait to play again next week. On this Motivation Monday, I encourage anyone who’s been missing a sport from yesteryear to think of a way to get back into it. Even if it’s once a week, or every other week, it’s a great way to put some variety into your routine and enjoy some nostalgia, too.  Why not consider bypassing the bar this week for that happy hour and instead get some co-workers together for a game of dodge ball or kick ball? Sometimes , bringing a bit of kid-type fun back into your routine is the kick you need to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Spring Cleaning for Your Fitness Routine

Photo by: Leslie Hassler

Get Psyched to Get Back Outdoors! Photo by: Leslie Hassler

This Motivation Monday brings us just four days away from the official start of the spring of 2015! To be more specific, spring starts on Friday, March 20th at 6:45 P.M. EDT; 5:45 P.M. CDT; 4:45 P.M. MDT, and 3:45 P.M. PD. Yes, I’m pretty excited about it. Then again, after the brutal winter most of us just lived through, who isn’t?

In anticipation of the start of the long-awaited season filled with sunshine and rising temperatures, here are five tips to give your health and fitness routine a spring makeover:

  1. Set a Realistic Schedule: If you’re fitness routine took a backseat this winter, don’t sweat it. Write down your plans for walks and other outdoor cardio, trips to the gym and group exercise classes. Just don’t write something in for every day of the week or you’ll get frustrated the first day you miss a workout. Start with three days and work up from there.
  2. Stretch: We’re all excited to get outside and move, but hitting a high-intensity boot camp or basketball game without any type of warm up can be a recipe for disaster. If you’ve been less active than usual during the winter months, focusing on your flexibility training is more important than ever. One idea: warm up with 10 minutes of light cardio, then some dynamic stretches. These include lunges, touching your toes and walking your hands forward, swinging your legs while standing and twisting from side to side. Post-workout, do some static stretches to help your muscles recover – just remember to hold those stretches for 30 seconds.
  3. Try Something New: Break up your routine and soak up some fresh air with tennis, golf or team up with friends on the weekend for endorphin- and laugh-infused games of dodge ball, kickball or even ultimate Frisbee. You don’t have to be a seasoned athlete to have fun and burn some calories at the same time!
  4. Clean Out More Than Your Closets: Still have tins of treats from the holidays or boxes of chocolate from Valentine’s Day? Get rid of them. Feel guilty about throwing stuff out? Bring it to the office or some other place where a crowd will devour it quickly. Replenish supplies of raw almonds, beans, quinoa, brown rice, herbal teas, spices and other non-perishable healthy staples.
  5. Give Your Workout Wardrobe a Makeover: It’s always fun having new duds, so why not get rid of the cotton college t-shirts and sweats and replace them with bright tanks, shorts, cropped pants and other workout wear made from moisture-wicking fabric. For my fellow fitness chicks, it’s a good time to think about replacing your sports bras. If you’re working out a lot, a sports bra has a similar lifespan to your footwear – about six months.

Hang in there just a few more days, and soon we’ll all be launched into a brand new season filled with endless opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Avoiding Heat-Related Emergencies

istock_000012020247smallIt looks like the true “dog days” of summer have arrived. New York City is emptier than ever as people take advantage of these last pre-back-to-school weeks to pack up the family and get out of town. If you have your own plans to spend extra time soaking up the sun at the beach, the park, or in your own backyard, be sure to use some common sense to stay safe in the warmer weather.

I must say we New Yorkers have been pretty lucky this summer. After a miserable winter, the last couple of months haven’t felt like the typical sauna I’ve grown accustomed to living in the concrete jungle of Manhattan. However, with most of August ahead of us, I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday to remind everyone how to recognize heat-related illnesses. Sometimes water, sunscreen and a good hat can’t prevent an unexpected emergency – especially if you’re exercising outdoors.

Here’s what you need to know if you or someone you’re with experience any of the following:

Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs or abdominal region, that could be a signal that a more serious emergency is imminent.

What to do: If you experience heat cramps, stop exercising immediately. Find some shade or move indoors where it’s cool and drink water.

Heat exhaustion: This is more severe than heat cramps, and can occur when you’ve been exercising strenuously for a long period of time in extreme heat or humidity. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Moist, pale, or cool skin
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Nausea
  • Weak pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen all tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels, but not to the point of shivering. Also, be sure to get some cool water into your system.

Heat stroke: This is the most severe heat emergency and usually happens when signs of heat exhaustion go unchecked.  In this situation, dangerously high internal temperatures will cause your body’s vital systems to fail.  Signs and symptoms include:

  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Little or no perspiration
  • Weakness
  • Rapid pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels. If you can find them, you can also put ice packs under the armpits and groin area.

Now that we’ve identified the emergencies, here are a few reminders on how to keep them from happening in the first place:

  • Try to exercise outdoors before 9 am and after 6 pm.
  • Stay hydrated! Basic guidelines call for you to drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise, but you can drink an additional eight to 16 oz  if you’re exercising in warmer weather. Personally, I simply have water with me at all times and take a sip or two whenever I rest between sets or just stop for a breather.
  • If you have cardiovascular or circulatory problems and are taking medication, always check with your doctor before adding any outdoor activity to your routine.

I leave you with two important tips:

  • Always call 911 in an emergency.
  • Listen to your body. It knows when something’s wrong.

Go ahead! Soak up what’s left of the season by working out and hanging out in the great outdoors. Just remember to use a little extra care so you can stay safe while you move ahead with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

‘Tis the Season…for lots of Sneezin’!

coldI hope wherever you spent the weekend you were lucky to enjoy some sunshine and warmer temperatures. Here in New York, it seemed everyone made the most of the glorious spring weather including yours truly. Of course, as I went for a long walk through the tree-lined, grassy suburban neighborhood where I grew up, it hit me – the pollen that is.

The last thing I want to do after the horrendous winter is complain about the arrival of allergy season. (However, the experts are predicting one of the worst spring and summer allergy seasons in a long time.) So as we New Yorkers welcome a 70-degree Motivation Monday, I’ll simply offer some advice for anyone who’s ready to move your fitness routine outside but wants to keep the sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing and potential wheezing to a minimum. Here are some of my springtime survival tips:

  • Timing is everything: Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 am and 10 am. Unfortunately, that’s when many people enjoy their get-the-day-started jog, bike ride or walk. If you can move the activity to a time that’s not so pollen-heavy, great. If not, hopefully some of the following tips will help.
  • Wear sunglasses: You can create at least a minimal barrier for your eyes by wearing sunglasses (or even goggles) if you plan to exercise outdoors for a long period of time. Using eye drops before you head outside can help, too.(Non-prescription Alaway eye drops helped me a lot last year and I recently added a new bottle to my medicine cabinet.)
  • Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for many years when I was a kid. They helped make my acute reactions less severe over time, but I still battle through hay fever season. Today there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can offer relief. (Important note: I do NOT like to take a lot of medicine, but I’d much rather take something for a few months than cut back on my workouts and start scratching my eyes out!) Talk to your doctor about what treatments might work best to alleviate your symptoms. To prevent the onset of those symptoms, it helps to take your medication one hour before your outdoor workout. If you get out of bed and head outdoors immediately, ask your doctor if you can take your medication before bed so it’s in your system when you head outside.
  • Clean up: At the end of an outdoor workout, your clothes are covered in a lot more than sweat. Get out of that pollen-covered workout gear, take a shower and wash your hair as soon as possible. The longer that pollen lingers, the more severe your reaction can be. You also don’t want to spread the pollen around your home by sitting on the couch or lying on your bed.

To wrap things up, the best advice I can offer is simple: listen to your body. If you’re trying to get your heart rate up outdoors but all you’re feeling is misery, be smart. Stop. Head indoors, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you turn to an air-conditioned group exercise class or pop in your favorite Zumba DVD in at home to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Bring on Spring!

A Quick Weekend Drive to Jones Beach Got Me Psyched for Spring!

A Quick Weekend Drive to Jones Beach Got Me Psyched for Spring!

I love to sleep. However, I didn’t mind losing an hour of snooze time this weekend thanks to Daylight Saving Time. Being able to hang on to the sunshine a little longer each day is definitely worth a few extra yawns.

I’m also ecstatic that there are only nine days left until the start of spring. Whatever’s been in the air this winter, I’m ready for it to move on out of here and bring on a new season filled with warmer temperatures and sunnier dispositions.

If you’re one of the many people who’ve been suffering from the “Winter Blues” now’s a great time to start shaking them off by thinking about some new moves to mix up your fitness routine. Remember, the extra hour of daylight nixes any excuse about hating to take that post-work walk in the dark. Come on people, use the light to boost your spirits and get moving!

Of course, if you’ve been hibernating all winter, remember to re-start your engines with care. Whether you’re taking on a serious fitness routine for the first time ever or if you’ve simply been on an extended, here are some reminders to help you safely spring into action:

  • Talk to your doctor. If you’ve never exercised before, you should make sure your heart is in good shape for a serious shake-up. If you’re already on heart medication or managing conditions like diabetes or asthma, it’s crucial to speak to your doctor about how to proceed with an exercise routine. Similarly, if you have any old injuries, it’s a good idea to make sure to gauge where you are in the healing process so you avoid activity that could set you back again.
  • Talk to a trainer. Even if I wasn’t a certified personal trainer, I’d suggest treating yourself to a session or two with someone who can assess any muscle imbalances, show you proper form and help you create a comprehensive exercise program that helps you reach your goals.
  • Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. Start slow. Seriously. If you’ve been sitting on your couch all winter, it’s probably not a good idea to jump into a 60-minute boot camp class. Don’t know exactly where to start? Stretching, core work and cardio are always a safe bet.
  • No Gym? No Problem! If you don’t like the gym, well this is YOUR time of year! Treat yourself to a new pair of running sneakers or cross trainers and start pounding the pavement in your neighborhood or find some trails at a nearby park or recreation area. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to start cycling? Time to pick up the tennis racquet?
  • Got Gym? Check Out What’s New!  I visited my parents over the weekend, and if I’d checked the updated schedule at the New York Sports Club near their house, I would have arrived 20 minutes earlier Saturday morning and made it to Zumba!  Along with normal group exercise classes, smaller training classes are more popular than ever and now’s the time some of those classes may move outdoors. I know I can’t wait to start hitting it hard in Central Park again on Saturday mornings for Roberto Murichi’s killer workouts!

So, if you’ve been searching for some motivation to get moving, take advantage of the longer days and make this your time to shine. No doubt a little extra solar power could be just the boost we all need to fuel our drive to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Summer Fitness for Your Skin

Be Sun Smart!

This is the season many of us move everything from our meals to our workouts outside. There’s nothing like a run along the sand or a game of beach volleyball to mix up your fitness routine! That means it’s also time to step up your efforts to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun, especially skin cancer.

Here are a few sobering facts to remember courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • Melanoma is the most common cancer in women ages 25-29.
  • One person dies of melanoma every 62 minutes.

The good news is protecting yourself from skin cancer doesn’t have to be difficult. Wearing sunscreen is one of the best preventive measures you can take. However, applying it just once if you’re going to be outside for several hours isn’t enough. If you’re active in the sun, even sweat-proof sunscreens need to be re-applied. I admit many of the heavily promoted long-wearing sunscreens can be sticky and streaky, so if you have one that works for you when you’re breaking a sweat, I’d love to hear about it!

For those of us with sensitive skin, finding a sunscreen for the face can be an even bigger problem. I’m one of the 16 million Americans who suffer from Rosacea, a chronic inflammatory skin condition with symptoms including redness, bumps and even small visible blood vessels on the face. Unfortunately, my condition is partly the result of all the sun-worshipping I did in my teens and 20s. Now I have to be extra careful when I’m enjoying time at the beach as sun exposure is one of the triggers that can cause a flare up. Add an irritating sunscreen to the mix, and my skin can really be out of whack after just an hour or two in the sun.

I think I may have finally found a sunscreen that will protect my face from the sun and not aggravate my Rosacea. It’s called Athelios from LaRoche-Posay. I found it at my local Duane Reade drug store. It’s actually a super lightweight fluid that comes in SPF 45 and 60. Along with my Clinique SPF 30 stick for my delicate eye area and lips, I hope I’m all set for the summer!

Along with wearing sunscreen, if you have moles, it’s important to keep an eye on them. I can’t count the number of moles I have on my body but I can tell you I’ve had at least a half-dozen suspicious-looking moles removed in the past 10 years. I visit my dermatologist annually to make sure none of my moles, especially the ones that have irregular borders and different shades of color. In fact, I had my 2012 visit about three weeks ago and got the all clear til next year. Click here for more on the ABC’s (and Ds and Es) of when it’s time to get a mole checked by a dermatologist.

So if you’re busy replenishing your summer stock of moisture-wicking shirts and shorts, don’t forget to replenish your sunscreen supplies, too. Staying sun smart is a surefire way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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