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Let’s All “Fall” Into Fitness!

Here Comes the Fall!

Happy first Motivation Monday of the fall of 2017!

Even though it still feels very much like summer here in New York, the reality is these 80-degree days won’t last forever. So while I encourage everyone to take advantage of the sunny days while they last, I also thought it was a good time for a reminder on all the inspiration Mother Nature has in store for us during the season ahead. If your fitness routine has been getting a little boring, there’s nothing like a change of seasons to kick things back into high gear.

Here are a few ways to add some fun to your fall fitness routine:

  • ‘Tis the season for kayaking, canoeing, rowing and horseback riding! If you live near the water, look for clubs that offer fall water sports. Along with enjoying some scenery, you’ll get the added benefit of squeezing some cardio and upper body strength training  into your workout. Horseback riding helps build lower body strength while taking in the beauty of a brightly colored trail. If you’re a city dweller like me, consider trying a rowing class or at least adding a 500-meter sprint on the rowing machine to your gym routine. (I like to add a sprint in between my 30-minute elliptical machine and 20-minute recumbent bike sessions and usually add another sprint at the end of the entire cardio machine stretch.)
  • Make those chores work for you! Did you know a 150-pound person can burn up to 135 calories by raking leaves for 30 minutes? Raking leaves can also be a fun family activity if you get the kids involved, too.
  • Outdoor bootcamps, anyone? Check out opportunities to enjoy as many workouts as you can in local parks or other outdoor hot spots before the colder temps and darker days chase us indoors. Depending on the intensity of the class, these full-body workouts can burn up to nearly 500 calories an hour.
  • Adjust the time you workout: I don’t know about you, but as it gets darker, it’s harder for me to get motivated in the evenings. While I’m adjusting to the lack of sunlight, I try to get my workouts over with pre-work if possible. Check if there are morning group classes that fit your fancy. Not only can the group dynamic offer a boost of motivation, but you’ll start the day with a shot of endorphins to keep the energy up at work or wherever the day takes you. Also, by working out in the morning, you can welcome the tired feeling that creeps up on you earlier than usual and spend your evenings relaxing or enjoying down time with family and friends.

So what’s your fall fitness plan? Let me know! Whatever you do, remember this: sometimes all you need is a little help from Mother Nature to help you find new reasons to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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Don’t Let Allergies Put the Brakes on Your Fitness Fun!

'Tis the season for sneezin'!

‘Tis the season for sneezin’!

During the last few weeks, I realize I’ve been encouraging everyone to get outside and get moving. With spring in full bloom, I also know exercising outdoors can be tough when your eyes are burning or you find yourself sneezing and coughing thanks to a high pollen count.

As a longtime allergy sufferer, I thought this Motivation Monday presented the perfect opportunity to post some timely reminders on how we can all survive the 2016 spring allergy season.

  • Mind the time: 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: Sporting shades (or even goggles) can create some sort of barrier for your eyes while you’re outside. I also recommend using eye drops before you head outdoors. For the past several years, using Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway over-the-counter eye drops twice a day has helped me avoid scratching my eyes out even on high pollen count days.
  • Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for many years as a kid. Over time, they helped lessen the severity of my allergy attacks, but I still battle through hay fever season each spring. Today 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 altogether. Speak with your doctor about what treatments might work best to alleviate your specific symptoms. To prevent the onset of those symptoms, it helps to take your medication an hour before your outdoor workout. If you wakeup and then workout outdoors, 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!

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!

 

Still Need Some Spring Fitness Ideas?

Photo by Leslie Hassler

Photo by Leslie Hassler

It certainly doesn’t feel like it here in New York City, but according to the calendar, we’re three weeks into the spring of 2016. If you’re still struggling to find some ways to get more activity into your daily routine while taking advantage of the extra daylight, I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday to offer a few pointers.

1. Get Dirty & Break A Sweat in the Garden!

For all of you with green thumbs, this is the time of year you’ve been waiting for! Getting your garden ready for the season can involve some serious heavy lifting.  There are lots of muscles involved when it comes to clearing away debris, digging, hauling dirt, mulching, and planting. Garden maintenance – weeding, trimming, clipping – can also help you break a bit of sweat. Are you going to burn a ton of calories? Probably not. Still, it’s a great way to spend time outdoors and feel good about breaking a sweat and getting dirty.

2. Take the Action Outside!

Love doing burpee sprints or Tabatas at home? That’s great! If you have a little space outside where you can get a dose of Vitamin D in addition to those blood-pumping endorphins, why not take your tried and true routine out there? Remember, getting 15 minutes of sunlight is a good thing – it helps reduce your risk of a vitamin D deficiency. We all need vitamin D for strong bones and healthy hearts.

3. A Little Pick-Up, Anyone? 

I love walking by the many parks around Manhattan and coming across adults playing games I remember fondly from my youth like kickball or dodgeball. Chances are there are leagues or groups in your own community that are looking for people to join a weekly game of soccer, baseball or volleyball. You can always look to Google to find out. If not, who says you can’t start your own league with a few fellow enthusiastic friends? Instead of meeting at the bar after work, a once-a-week sweat session with friends could be a healthy addition to your after hours routine.

If you have other ideas for using the season put some extra spring in your fitness steps, I’d love to hear about them! It’s always great when Mother Nature gives us a natural boost to stay on track with our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Allergy Season Survival Tips

coldI think it was about a month ago when I heard the first news stories telling allergy sufferers like me to brace for a killer season. The never-ending brutal winter kept the trees and other spring blooms dormant for a lot longer than usual, and then about two weeks ago – BAM! Everything exploded. Now, tree pollen seems to fall like rain, turning cars of every color a bright green shade while lawnmowers can be heard firing up in the ‘burbs to cut the newly awakened grass.

So I thought this Motivation Monday presented the perfect opportunity to offer some tips on how to prevent allergy season from sidelining your long-awaited outdoor workout plans for spring.  Here are a few tricks that help me keep the itchy eyes, sneezing and that uncomfortable sensation of having cotton stuck in my throat to a minimum:

  • Mind the Time: 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.
  • Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for several years when I was a kid. They helped make my acute reactions less severe over time, but I still battle through hay fever season every year. Today there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can offer relief. (Important note: I don’t like to take a lot of medicine, but as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather take something for a few months that will keep me from 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 an 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: Get out of those sweaty and pollen-infused clothes, take a shower and wash your hair as soon as possible following an outdoor workout. 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.)

Probably the best advice I can offer is this: 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 sign up for an indoor air-conditioned group exercise class or bang out a Tabata derby at home to keep you sneeze-free on your quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

FINALLY Getting In On the SUP Craze!

IMG_0135Think you can’t get a good workout and have fun at the same time? Then you need to give stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) a whirl!

I’ve been wanting to get in on this growing craze for a long time and finally took the plunge last weekend in Nantucket. After the first 60-minute attempt, I understood why nearly one-point-two million people gave SUP a try in 2013. It’s an activity that can help anyone improve balance and strength regardless of his or her fitness level. The bonus: if you wipe out – which I did at least a half-dozen times – you get a nice shot of cool refreshment to motivate you to get back up on the board.

Why does SUP provide such a good workout? It’s simple: in order to remain upright and propel yourself in the water, you need to stay balanced. That means you use virtually every muscle in your body to stand on a surface which can grow increasingly unstable depending on waves and currents. While I felt a good burn in my legs, I really felt my core muscles firing especially as I focused on keeping my navel drawn-in and glutes engaged in order to stay standing. The paddling also got my arms, back and shoulders pumping, but I was careful not to pump as hard or as often with my left side as I continue to nurse my left shoulder back to health.

IMG_0138What I also like about SUP is that it can truly be tailored to various fitness levels. Newbies can start on their knees before moving to a stand-up position. More seasoned enthusiasts may want to take their skills to rougher waters where bigger waves and stronger currents can present more of a challenge. Either way, you’re getting a low-impact workout which makes it kinder to the joints than running or high-impact group exercise classes. If you have access to the sport and like being on the water, your search for a new cross-training activity could be over.

What about calories, you ask? Just like any other activity, you’ll burn more calories as your intensity increases. For a “casual” hour, you can burn between 250 and 350 calories. If you’re paddling hard, that number goes up. I’ve read some SUP articles that include racers burning more than 1,000 calories in an hour.

While I won’t be adding a board and paddle to my New York City apartment decor anytime soon, I will be keeping my eyes open for SUP opportunities on future getaways. Whether it’s SUP or another activity, let this Motivation Monday post serve as a reminder that adding something new to your routine is still one of the best ways to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Bring on Summer!

IMG_3208

SO ready for summer!

After an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in New York City, this Motivation Monday has me completely pumped for the official arrival of summer 2014!  At this time of year, I’d rather be out doing something active than reading about it. So, today I offer three simple tips to help make the most out of this month and the summer ahead.

1) Stay hydrated:  As the mercury rises, we tend to be more aware of getting the right amount of fluids throughout the day. Be sure to drink 16 ounces of water one hour before your workout and keep sipping throughout. I’m also a big fan of the latest addition to my fitness survival tool “kit.” If you haven’t tried Sportsfood electrolyte strips yet, there’s no time like now give them a test run. Click here for a reminder on why I use the zero-calorie, zero-guilt take-anywhere strips. One final note on hydration: Unless you’re an athlete running up and down a court or field for 90 minutes or longer, skip the extra calories in those sugary energy drinks and stick with water.

2) Love The Skin You’re In: ‘Tis the season for short shorts, tank tops, bikinis and all-things skin revealing. Which makes it all too easy to start the self-sabotaging act of comparing ourselves to others. So, here’s an important reminder: no two bodies are built the same. Let other fitness fanatics motivate you to move simply because you want to feel the same endorphin rush they’re experiencing. It shouldn’t be about getting the same “six-pack” abs as the woman who just ran by you in the beach or the same pecs as the guy banging out push-ups on the park bench. If you’re doing all you can to exercise and eat healthy, give yourself a high five and bask in all the positives you experience because of your lifestyle.

3)Mix it Up! Since variety is the spice of life, gearing up for a new season is a great time to mix up your exercise routine. Summer is the perfect time to explore your options beyond the four walls of a gym. Maybe this is the year you try paddle boarding, Saturday morning boot camp classes in the park, Tabatas on the beach or join a social volleyball club in your community. Turn the outdoors into your fitness playground and have some fun!

If you have any tips that add to your summertime fitness fun, I’d love to hear about them! Here’s to another great week ahead filled with lots of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

More Outdoor Fun for a Workout Wednesday

Still Standing Another Heart-Pounding CrossFit UWS Workout!

Still Standing Another Heart-Pounding CrossFit UWS Workout!

Surprise! I’m back just in time for a Workout Wednesday! It turns out I never shared one of my latest and greatest outdoor workouts with you, and figured this was the perfect day of the week to put it out there. What made this Central Park workout extra fun was it included a team element. Here’s how CrossFit UWS head coach Roberto Murichi got a half-dozen “warriors” to break a sweat:

Active Stretch: 60-second hamstring stretch; 30 jumping jacks; 6o-second squat stretch; 30 front kicks

Warm Up: After 20 seconds of jumping rope (single-unders), we then had 90 seconds to complete two exercises:

  1. 20 park bench plyo push-ups
  2. 10 squats

Each of us finished the push-ups and squats before the 90 seconds were up. That gave us just enough time to grab some water before picking up our jump ropes and moving on to round two. (Three rounds total.)

Team Workout:

Roberto split us up into three teams of two. When the timer started counting down from 15 minutes, team member number one started a 200 meter run. Susan was my partner, and while she ran I had to bang out as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of the following exercises:

  1. Five burpee bench jumps: We used the park benches as our support point, just like we did for the warm up. When we brought our legs in following the push-up part of the burpee, we either did a box jump or a modified version stepping on and off the bench one leg at a time.
  2. 10 reverse lunges (double count)

Once Susan finished her 200 meter run, I started mine and she would pick up wherever I left off in the AMRAP. When I finished the 200 meters, Susan would start up again and I was back at the bench. The same sequence continued throughout the 15-minute workout. When time was up, Susan and I had plenty of sweat to prove we made it through 12 rounds of burpee bench jumps and reverse lunges. Add that to multiple rounds of the 200 meter run and I think it’s easy to see why we were riding a major endorphin high when the buzzer finally signaled the end of the workout.

We tied another team for 12 rounds, while the third team beat us out by one. At the end of it all, there were high-fives all around and lots of heavy breathing. Sometimes a little friendly competition and fresh air is all you need to mix things up and add another level to your ongoing efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Welcome Summer of 2013!

Looking forward to more summer Saturdays in the park with Roberto Murichi

Looking forward to more summer Saturdays in the park with Roberto Murichi

Ever feel like you’ve hit a rut in your fitness routine? Don’t worry – it happens even to the biggest fitness fanatics. The good news is sometimes all you need to get your mojo going again is a change of venue. Now that the summer season officially has officially started, there’s no time like the present to take some of your moves to a park, beach or other outdoor hot-spot near you.

I certainly have some extra kick in my step on this first Motivation Monday of my favorite season thanks to the leftover endorphin rush following a long overdue Central Park workout courtesy of  CrossFit UWS head coach Roberto Murichi.  Here’s how I kicked off a picture-perfect Saturday in New York City:

  • Active Stretch:  20 sec squat stretch; 20 front kicks; 20 seconds running in place (ironically abbreviated R.I.P); 20 back kicks. Three rounds total.
  • Warm up:  I had 10 minutes to complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of the following exercises (I managed to get through four):
  1. 100 single-unders (jump rope_
  2. 10 plyo bench push-ups
  3. 10 overhead squats

Roberto was kind enough to catch one of my rounds in action. (Before you take a peek, I admit my form wasn’t ideal for the first few push-ups, but for the next round I re-adjusted my hand position on the bench and I was able to bang them out without the arch in my lower back you see here.)

  • Workout: The “Chipper”:  Roberto set his timer to see how quickly I could complete the following circuit: 
  1. 400 meter sprint
  2. 40 bench jumps. I chose to do modified step-ups
  3. 40 kick-outs (I demonstrate both the step-ups and kick-outs in the park bench workout video posted earlier this month. Click here for a refresher.)
  4. 200 meter spring
  5. 20 step-ups
  6. 20 kick-outs

I finished the above in 8:03. Not my fastest, but not my slowest time either. The bottom line is I pushed myself to a serious break-a-sweat, heart-pounding limit and felt ready to take on the world when I was done. I hope this workout re-cap offers a serious shot of motivation to use this week and the entire summer season as a time to get out there and get moving. There’s no time like the present to explore your surroundings and spice up your workout routine as part of your ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

My Summertime Survival Tools

As you can probably tell from my last few posts, I’m very excited about the arrival of my favorite season. Since this Motivation Monday falls just five days before the start of the summer, I thought I’d offer a quick hit list of some of my seasonal fitness survival tools:

iStock_000010754376Small1)Re-usable water bottle:  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

2) Moisture-wicking clothing: Sometimes the gear I wear makes all the difference between sweating it out and throwing in the towel.

3) Portable / non-perishable snacks: My new favorite are KIND protein bars, but some old stand-bys include bananas, apples and almonds. If you’re packing a cooler for the beach, watermelon, pineapple and frozen grapes are a few of my picks for refreshing sweet treats.

4) Jump rope: My favorite portable workout tool of all time! Winds up and fits in any backpack and can be used anywhere from the park to the beach.

5) New kicks: You may recall I get a new pair of cross trainers twice a year. Since I tend to ask Santa to leave one pair under the tree for me on Christmas Day, this is the time of year I look for the next pair that I can start wearing down.

photo-96) Sunscreen: I’m the first to admit I did a ton of damage to myself as a sun worshipper in my teens and 20s. After developing Rosacea in my 30s, I’m a lot better of protecting my skin from harm.  The sensitive skin on my face does well with a lightweight fluid called Athelios from LaRoche-Posay. I also like the sheer touch formulas by Hawaiian Tropic and I’ve heard great things about the Banana Boat sports sunscreen line.

7) Good tunes:  I simply cannot get into my workout without some heart-pounding beats. Here are the five songs currently giving me the biggest boost for cardio, Tabatas and weight training (some are old, some are new):

  • images“Truly Madly Deeply (Thomas Gold Radio Edit)” – Cascada
  • “Crank It Up” – David Guetta & Akon
  • “Can’t Hold Us (featuring Ray Dalton)” – Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis
  • “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” – Fall Out Boy
  • “Stay Hungry” – Twisted Sister

Now bring on the start of summer 2013 and plenty of sun-filled days so we can all have fun, be fit and feel fabulous right through Labor Day!

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