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A Christmas Tradition Continues….

This marks the first Motivation Monday to fall on Christmas Eve since 2012. I can’t think of a better day to share a seven-year-old signature gift from LauraLovesFitness. Keeping up with tradition, this fitness-inspired twist on a holiday classic will also be my last post of 2018. Today I give you a kickboxing addict’s version of…

The 12 Days of Fitness

On the first day of fitness, my workout gave to me…my favorite kind of therapy.

On the second day of fitness, my workout gave to me…two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

On the third day of fitness, my workout gave to me…three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

On the fourth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

On the fifth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

On the sixth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

On the seventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

On the eighth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….eight back-fist punches, seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

On the ninth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…nine jab-cross combinations, eight back-fist punches, seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

On the tenth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….ten burpee push-ups, nine jab-cross combinations, eight back-fist punches, seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

On the eleventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…eleven side planks, ten burpee push-ups, nine jab-cross combinations, eight back-fist punches, seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

On the twelfth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…twelve reps of lunges, eleven side planks, ten burpee push-ups, nine jab-cross combinations, eight back-fist punches, seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.

Whatever you and your family are celebrating as another year winds down, I wish you a very happy and healthy holiday week ahead. I close with a huge thank you for all the support throughout another year filled with highs and lows. Here’s to ringing in 2019 with a bang (and a punch!) and ushering in all the new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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Christmas Crunch Time Survival Tips

If you find yourself in a haze after another weekend full of holiday cheer, take comfort knowing you’re definitely not alone. With Christmas only eight days away, the festivities have spun into overdrive. ‘Tis also the time those items on the to-do list grow a little more daunting with each day that passes leading up to the 25th. So, in order to let all you busy elves get back to business, here are a few survival tips to get through the next week while keeping some healthy habits in check:

  1. Drink water: One cannot exist on egg nog (or wine, or bubbly) alone. It’s no secret that boozy libations are high in sugar and calories. Just remember, if you’re reaching for an alternative, stick with water instead of soda or other sugary drinks that can also make you feel sluggish after the initial caffeine or sugar rush wears off. Water is still king when it comes to staying hydrated. In addition to helping us keep our appetite in check, proper hydration also promotes better sleep which is something most of us can use.
  2. Try a Little Culture: I’m talking about the live cultures found in foods like yogurt that can help keep our tummies balanced during a time when we tend to indulge a little more. The majority of our immune system is found in the digestive tract, so it’s an important place to take care of. Think about adding a yogurt to your daily routine this week, or try a food known for beneficial bacteria like miso or kimchi.
  3. Do NOT Skip Breakfast: I was definitely guilty of this bad habit during in my younger years, especially at this time of year filled with so many after-work festivities. Skipping meals may sound like a great way to save calories for the fun night ahead, but all it usually does is open the door for a hangry arrival at a party followed by a fast track to the richest, highest-calorie option on the table. Make sure to have breakfast with some protein. Whether you’re an Isagenix shake lover like me, or just have a hard-boiled egg or a non-fat plain Greek yogurt, getting something in your stomach is important to get the metabolism going. If you don’t want a full lunch, make sure to at least have a few snacks throughout the day – maybe almonds and a green apple or celery sticks and hummus – to stay fueled. And definitely have something at least an hour before the party so you don’t inhale a plate of hors d’oeuvres the minutes you walk in.
  4. Find Creative Ways to Exercise: Is the party taking you away from your normal group exercise class after work? Then maybe try to get up a little earlier and go for a power walk or bang out some Tabatas in your living room. If you drive to work, park farther away from the entrance and take the stairs instead of the elevator to your office. Try and sneak out for 10 minutes at lunchtime for another walk, or if the weather is bad, use the stairs. Remember, 10 minutes of anything is always better than nothing!
  5. Pack Healthy Essentials: Traveling for Christmas? Be sure to pack your sneakers and a couple of sports bras, tees and yoga pants along with the presents. Don’t forget the portable shaker and shake packets for a healthy breakfast or snack option, and don’t be shy about bringing your own raw almonds, KIND bars or other portable snacks so you’re always armed with some healthy options for the time away from home.your normal routine.

As Christmas crunch time winds down, remember this: the key is to do simple things for yourself so you don’t turn into a holiday humbug and stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

Gobble, Gobble With Less Guilt!

It may not be eloquent, but I’m a big fan of yet another old saying: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In that vein, I’m dishing out my annual pre-Turkey Day, Motivation Monday inspiration.

Thanksgiving remains my all-time favorite holiday because it’s a day that provides a chance for us to pause and give thanks for all that’s good in our lives. As I continue to reflect on and recover emotionally from the events of last month, I know I have even more to be grateful for this year. And what better way to embrace what’s good than spending quality time with family, friends and plenty of delectable food and drinks?

It’s probably no surprise to learn between the snacking and sitting down for a traditional holiday meal, the Calorie Control Council reports the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day. (And we won’t even address the leftovers many of us forage on throughout the extended holiday weekend.) So, I thought I’d help everyone start the week of strong with a few holiday feasting survival tips:

  • Move it! Don’t skimp on the activity this week. Remember, ten minutes of some type of exercise are always better than doing nothing. The bonus is you’ll get a mental boost knowing you made an effort prior to the the indulging. On Thursday, even if you’re hosting the holiday fun and can’t leave the house, you can pop in an exercise DVD or bang out a Tabata or two first thing in the morning. You could also try and sneak out for a brisk power walk or abbreviated run. Your gym is open? Great! Try a morning group exercise class or attack some cardio and core work. A few solid planks can make you feel strong before filling your belly with those delicious eats!
  • Eat breakfast! Be sure to eat something sensible on Thanksgiving morning to kick-start your metabolism. If you’re not feasting until late afternoon, make sure to follow breakfast with a small lunch or smart snack so you don’t go overboard later. Some ideas: non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a handful of almonds mixed in; a green apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter or a piece of toasted Ezekiel bread topped with a sliced hard-boiled egg and salsa. These protein-rich snacks will keep you feeling full longer than a sugar-infused snack. For me, blending a chocolate Isagenix shake for breakfast is always a surefire way to know I started the day off on the right foot – even if it all goes downhill later!
  • Mind Those Portions! Load up a smaller dish, like one you’d use for salad, for your meal. Start filling it with salad or veggies and then add the protein-rich turkey. Use the remaining space for the potatoes, stuffing and other starches. There simply won’t be as much room left as you’d have on a regular dinner plate.
  • Savor the Flavor! Eat slowly! If you do clean your plate, wait 10 minutes before going back for round two. This will help you decide if you’re really hungry. If you aren’t, you’ll feel good knowing you had one helping – and saved room for dessert, of course!
  • Keep Tabs on the Libations! This is the perfect day to follow the every-other-drink plan. Enjoy your libation of choice, followed by a glass of still or sparkling water before moving on to cocktail number two…and so on…
  • Doggie Bags Make Great Favors!  Hosting the holiday get-together? Don’t be shy about giving sending some of the uneaten turkey and trimmings home with your guests.

I wrap this year’s post like the others by extending my heartfelt wishes to all my readers to enjoy a very Happy Thanksgiving! Your support is one of the many things I am thankful for at the holiday, and all year round. One final note: If you end up breaking the calorie bank this Thanksgiving, don’t sweat it. Laughter, good food and even some good wine can be the perfect ingredients for a happy holiday as we continue our ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Congratulations, Runners!

On this Motivation Monday, I send huge kudos to the tens of thousands of FITASTIC men and women who laced up for yesterday’s TCS New York City Marathon. As my repeat readers know, despite my love for kickboxing, barre classes, Zumba and all types of exercise, I never caught the running bug. So I will forever be in awe of anyone who can run for any amount of time – and 26.2 miles is simply incredible.

In addition to some well-deserved celebrating and indulging in treats galore, I hope the more than 50,000 runners are also taking a well-deserved rest day after pushing their bodies to the ultimate extreme. While the rest of us may not have clocked 26.2 miles on our fitness trackers this weekend, it’s important to remember each and every one of us regardless of our fitness level needs at least one rest day each week. If you don’t allow your body to rest and recover, you’re simply putting yourself at risk for overtraining. That can lead to a gamut of problems ranging from stress fractures and joint pain to sleepless nights.

To put it simply, too much of a good thing – even exercise – can be bad. Why? Because working out, especially at high levels with high impact, breaks down your body tissue. Resistance training actually breaks down muscles causing microscopic tears and it is on rest days when the muscles, nerves, bones and connective tissue get the needed time to rebuild.

So if this Motivation Monday turns into a rest day, don’t sweat it. Sometimes your body and mind need some extra zzzz’s or an overdue chat with a loved one more than a heart-pounding workout. If you’ve made the commitment to exercise and watch what you eat, you also owe it to yourself to give your body time to rest and recharge. It’s all part of the winning formula to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Here’s to a Happy and Healthy Fall!

Happy first Motivation Monday of the fall of 2018!

Many of us mark the official change of seasons by packing up the beach gear and craving all those pumpkin-flavored treats. So I thought it was the perfect time to offer yet another reminder about how a little patience can go a long way when it comes to adjusting to a new season filled with new demands. That reminder isn’t just for my loyal readers. Putting the words “on paper” in this post is another kick in my own you-know-what to be better to my body in the days ahead.

The great news is I start the fall season with a discharge from physical therapy! After nearly two months of treatment for an overuse injury in my knee, my wonderful physical therapist Jun Zhang deemed it safe to let me back into the wild. However, just because I no longer have to meet with Jun at the Orthology studio in Chelsea, I still have work to do on my own. The stretches and strengthening exercises he taught me for my adductors and abductors will continue to be a part of my daily exercise routine. I also have to wait just a little bit longer before I can run back to the heavy bag at Best Kickboxing NYC. I’m going to “test” my knee over the next couple of weeks with jab / cross / weave drills to make sure my knee can handle the twisting needed for the tough muay thai inspired classes. Now that I’m so close to getting back to doing what I love, it’s almost harder to wait it out. But I will. I keep reminding myself of something I’ve told others so many times: going back too quickly could mean end up exactly where I don’t want to be – back in physical therapy.

I have shared a little about my physical therapy journey as a reminder that injuries can happen whether you’re a novice or a bona fide fitness fanatic. The key is to not ignore the pain in your body or the voice in your head telling you something’s not right. The longer you put off treatment, the longer it can take to get back in the game that you love. So, listen to your body and follow through with your prescribed treatment. In a world of instant gratification, it’s important to realize slow and steady will always be a way to win the continuous race to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

Back in Action…Well, Sort Of

My August “Fashion” Accessory

Happy September!

I realize I’m probably “showing my age,” but I’m absolutely blown away at how each summer seems to fly by faster than the last. It’s even harder to believe my annual month-long hiatus from blogging has come to an end, too. I hope your August was filled with at least a few lazy days, plenty of laughter and some precious moments with friends and family. Let the memory of those happy days give you a boost when the back-to-reality blues come knocking at your door.

Since everyone seems to be in back-to-school mode, I thought it was the perfect time to offer what I learned in a different kind of summer school: physical therapy. Fortunately, I am close to wrapping up my PT sessions, but I’m still uncertain of the date I’ll be able to return to my ultimate happy place: the kickboxing studio. So the lesson I hope you take away from this first post of September boils down to this: do what I say, NOT what I do. Seriously.

Since 2011, I’ve written multiple posts about the importance of listening to your body and taking a step back if it tells you something’s wrong. And what exactly did LauraLovesFitness do in this situation? I didn’t listen. I ignored the pain that started as a small twinge in the medial region of my right knee after a kickboxing class back in February. Sure, I’d take a day off, maybe two, here and there, but I never rested long enough to give my body a real break. After several months, that twinge had turned into a steady, searing pain that began impacting life away from the heavy bag. It started bothering me during long walks, at Physique57 classes and even after periods of sitting. When the pain started waking me up at night, I knew it was time to do something. Fortunately, a MRI ruled out a tear in my meniscus or any ligaments surrounding the knee. However, I was diagnosed with bursitis and tendonitis due to a probable strain in my adductor followed by overuse. That meant I had to take a step back from kickboxing and get my butt to physical therapy.

Now, after five weeks of manual therapy, ice massage, various stretching and strengthening exercises and wearing kinesiology tape (also known as elastic therapeutic tape or K-tape), I’m finally feeling like myself again. For someone used to going a million miles a minute, it’s been frustrating as hell and I miss kickboxing more than any other workout in my life. The bottom line is I have no one to blame but myself. If I could go back in time, I would have addressed the pain not long after it started, made sure I was executing the moves in my workout with proper form and taken the rest I needed.

So, as I continue to heal and look forward to a return to kickboxing, I encourage everyone to take things nice and slow as we transition from the “lazy days of summer” into more intense routines. Many are shifting from long walks at the beach back into more intense fitness classes or weight training sessions at the gym. Be sure to warm up and cool down; stretch; hydrate and when something doesn’t feel right, don’t keep doing it! If you don’t start feeling better after a few days of rest, consider seeing a doctor to make sure you haven’t done something that needs more than just ice and elevation.

I close with a hearty thank you to Dr. Andrew Rosen at Upper East Orthopaedics and Jun Zhu Zhang at Orthology in Chelsea for their expert care and for understanding my need to get back to the heavy bag. Here’s to healthy and happy September ahead and making smart choices along the path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Happy 7th Birthday, LLF!

It never ceases to amaze me how a date punctuates the passage of time. Especially as the number of years I’ve spent on this planet continues to climb. Now here we are on this particular Motivation Monday which kicks off a week commemorating the seventh “birthday” of this blog. I’m not sure how LauraLovesFitness.com keeps getting older, but I realize the years continue to pass thanks to all you wonderful readers who constantly inspire me to continue these weekly installments.

It was July 13, 2011 when I published my very first post. It would be impossible to discuss everything that’s happened in this world since then. When it comes to my own little world, through the end of relationships and jobs the beginning of new ones; the painful and sometimes sudden loss of family and friends; and the overall scary situations I think this country is dealing with on a nearly daily basis, my determination to stick with and even amp up my health lifestyle goals has helped me maintain some level of sanity when everything seems to be spinning out of control. A good sweat, some hard punches and kicks to the heavy bag or heart-pounding Tabatas at the gym (or the beach when I’m lucky enough to be on vacation) always seem to set my body straight.

It’s hard to believe seven years ago, I had never heard the word Tabata before, nor did I have any idea how good a kick-butt muay thai kickboxing session could make me feel. I also never knew starting the day with an Isagenix shake would become a solid way to start my day off on the right foot nutritionally no matter where work took me at any given hour of the day or night. While the ingredients may have changed a bit over the years, having a few go-to items in your daily routine when life is anything but can make all the difference when trying to keep this unpredictable thing called life from going off the rails.

So, as my “baby” blog enters a new year, her’s a look back at a few of my favorite posts from the past year:

My Project Runway Experience  (A once-in-a-lifetime experience made possible thanks to my involvement with Avon 39. Sadly, the 39.3-mile walk in the fight against breast cancer no longer exists in 2018. However, I do look forward to continuing the battle with my four-year walking partner, Sue, this fall. Stay tuned…)

Bring on March….Please! (A very candid look at my difficult struggle with the “winter blues” as we kicked off 2018.)

Another Milestone (A total break from the norm as I reflect on how my Dad’s retirement after 51-years as an internist impacted my life – and so many others.)

I close with a heartfelt thank you to all my LauraLovesFitness “fans.” If you aren’t already following me on social media, I hope you’ll consider doing so as we move into year number seven. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram with the handle @FitnessLaura, and I also maintain a LauraLovesFitness page on Facebook. I hope to start posting more videos on my LauraDLovesFitness YouTube channel. If there’s anything you’d like to see more of or less of in the year ahead, please let me know. There’s nothing like the power of teamwork to keep us all on track with our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Summer Sizzle Safety Tips

This is more than the first Motivation Monday in July. It’s also the fourth day the heat index has the temperature feeling like the upper 90s here in New York. As the heat advisories and alerts continue for the sweltering concrete jungle, I could think of no better time to offer some important reminders about staying safe in heat.

Whether you’re going for that daily run, signing up for an outdoor bootcamp session or meeting a friend for a power walk, here are some warning signs to look out for if you or your workout buddy start feeling out of sorts in the heat:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  • Mind the Time: 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. At this time of year, you’ll never find me leaving the house without two things: my refillable water bottle and BFit Labs electrolyte sprays. (My repeat readers will know I’ve been using the zero-calorie, zero sugar, gluten-free sprays for several years.) If you want more information or are interested in giving them a try, just click here.
  • Health Check: 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.

Of course, I encourage everyone to enjoy plenty of outdoor fun this summer. Using some extra care can keep you safe while moving ahead with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

These Are A Few of My Favorite (Summer) Things…

Here’s to the Season Ahead!

Hooray for the first official Motivation Monday post of the summer of 2018!

As I am just back from a week hosting the Health Channel, I hope you’ll forgive this short and sweet post. But now that my favorite time of year has finally arrived, I thought it was the perfect time great to offer a few things that help me make the most of the season.

Favorite Guilt-Free Treats: Frozen grapes, watermelon, strawberries, pineapple and mangoes. All of these fruits are packed with vitamins, including A and C, along with antioxidants. They also provide a sweet, juicy way to stay hydrated.

Favorite Summer Accessories: The pretty, purple MIRA insulated water bottle one of my besties gave me last Christmas; BFit Rapid Electrolyte Spray; Athleta sports bras and moisture-wick shorts and tanks; “At the Beach” skin products from Bath & Body Works; Organic coconut oil to help repair my sun-kissed hair.

Favorite Summer Songs:  Having some motivational music along for a workout can sometimes mean the difference between throwing in the towel or sweating through one or two more steps or reps. If you’re looking to mix things up, here are some seasonal classics that continue to add a little spring to my summer steps:

  • “Summertime,” Will Smith
  • “All Summer Long,” Kid Rock
  • “Cruel Summer,” Bananarama
  • “Summertime, Summertime,” Nocera
  • “Summertime Sadness,” Lana Del Ray & Cedric Gervais
  • “Summer Thing!” Afrojack featuring Mike Taylor
  • “Summer Girls,” Dino
  • “Summer of ’69,” Bryan Adams
  • “Boys of Summer, ” Don Henley
  • “Summer in the City,” The Lovin’ Spoonful

Now get out there, and find a few things that make you feel your best so you can savor every second of the summertime opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Healthy Business Travel Tips

Packing Up Some
Healthy Essentials

There was a lot of buzz in the LinkedIn world recently surrounding a Harvard Business Review story that examined the effects of business travel on a person’s health. It didn’t surprise me to read the data showed a direct relationship between the frequency of business travel and an array of physical and behavioral health risks.

Since you’re reading this Motivation Monday post as I kick off a week on the road hosting for the Health Channel in Miami, I thought it was a good time to offer some of my healthy survival tips when work takes me away from my favorite fitness classes and healthy fridge:

Book a Fitness-Friendly Hotel: Even if it’s not as well-equipped as your favorite gym at home, most hotels offer at least some forms of cardio equipment, free weights and maybe even a stability ball or two. If you do get stuck in a hotel that doesn’t have even a tiny fitness center (and I really hope you don’t!) here are some exercises you can do in your room that require no equipment at all:

Don’t Forget the Workout Wear: Whether you hit the hotel fitness center or bang out some burpees in your room, gym shorts, yoga pants, a couple of sports bra and pairs of socks all roll up into practically noting in a suitcase, even if it’s carry-on. So there’s no excuse not to take them along on the trip.

Pack Healthy Snacks: Along with the workout gear, you’ll always find a few small bags of raw almonds, and enough KIND snack bars and Isagenix IsaLean shake packets to last the duration of the trip in my suitcase. No matter how long I’m on location, I know I can start the day with a nutritious shake and when hunger hits later, I’m armed with good snack options.

Make Smart Choices: As someone used to 2am wake up calls for a 4am start and wrapping 16 hours later, I know how tempting it can be to go a little crazy with food as a “reward” for a job well done. While there’s no reason not to treat yourself, keep track of your portion sizes and perhaps choose to have a cocktail, but skip dessert; or skip an appetizer and a drink but indulge in something sweet after your meal. If you have to attend a client dinner or lunch, try the ever-other-drink rule for the duration of the meal. Start with a glass of wine or cocktail and then make your next drink water or seltzer. This way if you make it to the third drink, it’s only your second libation instead of a third.

I realize I’m a mini-business traveler compared to the true “road warriors” like my fiancé who has clocked hundreds of thousands of airline miles in his lifetime thanks to work. I do understand, however, how hard it is to feel “normal” again after just a few days on the road, let alone a week or more at a time. So the struggle is definitely real. But sometimes a little planning and adding a few healthy items to your suitcase for that time on the road is all you need to do your best to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
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