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Using Music for Motivation

music jpegThis short and sweet Motivation Monday post is all about the music. It’s amazing how some great tunes have kept my love affair with fitness fresh after all these years!

I remember making countless mix tapes back in college and more of those tapes were littered around my car when I went to gyms in the different states where I worked. Now my iTunes playlists have replaced those old-school cassettes. In the “old days,” I never went anywhere without my Walkman, and today, I make sure to have my ear buds with me at all times so I can play my motivational music for long walks in the city or when I work out at the gym or in the park.

Since music is such a big motivator in my routine, I thought I’d share my favorite top 10 songs of the moment. I always love to hear what everyone out there is listening to so don’t be shy about sharing your own top picks. Remember, whether you use music to move you or soothe you, it’s a great tool to add to your routine that can help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Laura’s November 2013 Faves:

  • “Let It Go (Laidback Luke Remix)” by Dragonette
  • “Cry Baby (Paul Oakendfold Mix” by Roisin Murphy
  • “Berzerk” by Eminem
  • “Little Bad Girl” by David Guetta
  • “TKO” by Justin Timberlake
  • “Starry Eyed (Penquin Prison Remix)” by Ellie Goulding
  • “It’s All Good (The Scumfrog Mixshow)” by Fantasia
  • “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” by Fergie, Q-Tip & GoonRock
  • “Victim” by WIN WIN
  • “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” by Fall Out Bo

“Spring” Some New Life Into Your Fitness Routine

Let's Kick Things Into Gear! Photo by Leslie Hassler

Let’s Kick Things Into High Gear!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

Leave it to Albert Einstein to come up with yet another catchy idea: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 

I have no idea whether he was a fitness buff, but the scientific genius could have been talking about exercise. Whether you’re a fitness newbie or fanatic like me, sometimes we all need a little motivation and a good kick in the you-know-what to take things up a notch. There are three reasons why spring is the perfect time to change your routine:

  1.  Avoid a Plateau: If you run at the same speed on the treadmill everyday for 20 minutes, your body will eventually hit a plateau. You’ll still burn calories, but you’ll need to increase your resistance levels or speed if you want to help boost your metabolism and maximize results. This is the same reason personal trainers push clients to increase reps with each workout. As your strength and endurance grows, so should your workout.
  2. Avoid Over-Training: Doing the same workout day after day doesn’t allow muscle groups time to rest and recover and ultimately grow. This not only diminishes returns on your hard work, but it also puts you at increased risk for injury. This is why I try to hit cardio and core hard on Mondays and Wednesdays and focus on strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I continue to mix things up over the weekend, and I’m always sure to take a minimum of one if not two days off each week.
  3. Avoid Burnout: If you get bored with your fitness routine, you’re likely to stop putting 100% into your work. If you stop seeing results, you may give up on your fitness goals altogether. Trying new group exercise classes and  weight training circuits can keep things fresh. 

The good news is there are simple ways to add a little variety, and perhaps some extra sweat, to your typical routine:

1) Start jumping rope: Not only does this fun activity make me feel like a kid again, but you can burn up to 20 calories per minute jumping rope. Also, you can do it just about anywhere. All you need is a jump rope! Even walkers can incorporate jumping rope into their routine and take things to the next leve. Try this combo: walk at your top speed for 5 minutes, then jump rope for 1 minute, keep switching between walking and jumping rope and work your way up to a total of 30 minutes. Ideally, try to work up to three walking/jumping sessions three times a week for two weeks.

2) Tweak the traditional push-up: Place your feet on a six- to eight-inch high step as you get in plank position and perform a push-up as you normally would. Be sure to draw in your navel and squeeze the glutes through all your reps. Adding the step creates more work for your shoulders along with the chest.

3) Get a new playlist: I can always count on heart-pounding beats to keep me moving! If you need some new tunes, I recently started following DJ Al Roccone on Twitter. He’s got great fitness mixes you can download for free. Check out his latest here:

4) Blow Your Mind: If you want to see what true strength and determination look like, check out this amazing video I found on the Fitness Girls Facebook page.

I may not be able to bang out half of exercises in that video, but I like seeing such challenging variations to body-weight exercises. It just goes to show sometimes all you need is your body and some floor space to get to work! Let me know how you take things up a notch this spring as part of the never-ending quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Fast Take Friday

TGIF!

In anticipation of the sunny, summery weekend they’re predicting here in New York City,  I thought I’d wrap up the work week with a list of some of newest favorite iTunes. I’ll be listening to them during my workouts and chill time between now and Sunday. Enjoy!

Energy for the Elliptical or Tabatas (No rhyme or reason on music genres here, the tracks just keep me moving!):

  • “How You Like me Now” The House That Dirt Built (I can’t get this song out of my head since recently seeing the movie “Horrible Bosses”!)
  • “Unconditional Love” (feat. Melissa Loretta) Amurai
  • “Titanium” (feat. Sia) David Guetta
  • “Let’s Go” (feat. Ne-Yo) Calvin Harris
  • “Scream” Usher
  • “Looks That Kill” Motley Crue
  • “Shout 2000” Disturbed
  • “The Final Countdown” Europe
  • “In de Ghetto” Crystal Waters

Mellow music for cooling down, stretching or sitting at the pool, beach or backyard:

  • “Empty Streets” Late Night Alumni
  • “Like a Waterfall: Flipside Ambient Remix” JES
  • “Change Your Mind: Chill Version” (feat. Kyler England) Sunlounger
  • “Complicated” Paul van Dyk
  • “Everything” (feat. JES) Tiesto
  • “Me & You: Dimitri Andreas & Madox Remix” (feat. Rami) Mr. Sam
  • “Show Me” DJ Encore

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: good music is one of the things that keeps me motivated to move. I’m always looking for recommendations, so please don’t hesitate to share some of the tracks on your playlists. Here’s to the weekend ahead filled with good tunes, good times and plenty of reasons to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Freestyle Friday

We’ve enjoyed some glorious sneak peeks at springtime here in New York City courtesy of Mother Nature this week. Along with the beautiful weather, I’ve found an extra spring in my step during my morning walks to the office thanks to what I call some “oldies but goodies” in my iTunes music library.

On today’s walk down Broadway, I took a fun trip down memory lane as the shuffle option played a medley of songs that brought me back to all those high school dances at St. Mary’s or Chaminade. The songs also reminded me of the days when I’d rush to pop a cassette in my boom box to tape them from the radio and use my birthday bucks to buy them on 12-inch vinyl. While I laughed to myself about all the crazy outfits I wore (I actually owned tie-dye Z. Cavaricci pants!) and all the hair I teased to go to those dances and bust a move to those songs, I also realized they still carry some good bass beats for a workout!

So, I thought I’d end the week by offering a fun freestyle music list for you to enjoy on your next date with the elliptical machine or maybe as a warm-up for your next visit to Culture Club.

  • “Baby Don’t Go,” Fast Forward
  • “Bad of the Heart,” George Lamond
  • “Boy Toy,” Tia
  • “Clave Rocks,” Amaretto
  • “Exposed to Love,” Expose
  • “Boy I’ve Been Told,” Sa-Fire
  • “I’ll Be All You Ever Need,” Trinere
  • “Can You Feel the Beat?” Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam
  • “Theme to S’Express,” S’Express
  • “Move Any Mountain,” The Shamen
  • “Dance With Me,” Tony Moran
  • “Dirty Cash,” The Adventures of Stevie V
  • “Ride on Time,” Black Box
  • “Show Me,” Cover Girls

Mixing up my music list is one of the ways I keep my fitness routine from getting boring. In 2012, it’s definitely entertaining to get my heart rate up with the help of some of my favorite tunes from my teens and 20s. It’s also a big relief to know at some point since then, I realized the big hair and shoulder pads would not become essential components in the ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

More Music That Moves Me

I am always listening for new music to add to my “workout mix” playlist.  Thanks to my friend Gabby, I discovered the Kim Sozzi Radio “station” on Pandora and I’ve collected some good beats to move to while working through a heart-pumping cardio or circuit training workout.  What I particularly like about these songs is that you won’t hear them on mainstream radio a dozen times a day. In fact, chances you are you may not hear some of them even once today on a local radio station.  So, as we head into another weekend, here are my 10 new favorites that keep me moving at the gym. (They also help me keep walking at a pretty good pace during my walk to work in the morning!)

“Get Better” KMC featuring Sandy

“Why You Had to Leave” Cascada

“Point of No Return” Unique/DJ Encore

“Chemistry” (Eric S Remix Radio Mix) Velvet

“The Longest Road” (Deadmau 5 Mix) Morgan Page

“I Can’t Help Myself” (Sunfreakz Mix) Bellatrax featuring Sophia May

“Flatline” (Kyau & Albert Radio Edit) Cosmic Gate featuring Kyler England

“Can’t Sleep” Above & Beyond

“Man on the Run” Cerf, Mitiska & Jaren

“Unforgivable” Armin van Buren featuring Jaren

I realize there are a lot of music genres out there, and these dance songs may not motivate you to move. That being said, I’d love to hear what tunes keep you in motion! Also, if you have music that helps you cool down, stretch or unwind after a workout or a long day, please send those titles and artists along, too.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend filled with lots of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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