Blog Archives

NEVER Stop Mixing It Up!

All Smiles After Another Kickboxing Class

On this Motivation Monday, I’m feeling a little sad. I can’t believe there’s only one week left in my favorite month of the year. Where is the summer of 2017 rushing off to in such a hurry?

Since I’m a firm believer that this is the season to savor every minute of mood-boosting daylight, I plan to keep these last couple of posts before my annual hiatus as short and sweet as possible. Today, I offer this simple reminder: variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to your fitness routine. If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage everyone to use the waning days of July to shake things up.

My mom gave me the nudge to mix things up by encouraging me to sign up for ILoveKickboxing classes at a studio near my parents’ house. It’s been five months since I started the kick-butt workouts in the city and I really missed them when I’d visit Mom and Dad for an extended period of time. I finally signed up for some classes last week and in addition to getting my punch-and-kick fix while out on Long Island, I also experienced the benefits of trying out different instructors and class styles. Even within the same workout program, no two fitness instructors are the same. That means you’re bound to enjoy some variety in everything from the music playlists to the exercise selection from the warm up right through the cool down.

Whether it’s trying a new instructor at your favorite group exercise class or moving your Tabata routine to the beach or the backyard, now’s the time to try something new. If you’ve got some outdoor time planned with family or friends, go ahead and toss a football, Frisbee or paddles and a rubber ball in your bag for a game or two. There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to burn a few calories before enjoying those summer cocktails and barbecue favorites.

The great news is there’s still plenty of time left in the season to mix things up to the max and continue your quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Tips & Tools to Have Fun, Be Fit & Feel Fab This Summer

Wow! Can you believe this is the first Motivation Monday of July? I hope you’re enjoying the start of summer and having some good times with family and friends as we get ready to celebrate the 241st birthday of our great United States of America.

Since I want to let you get back to your holiday fun as quickly as possible, you only need about four minutes to check out the video below where I offer a few tips and tools to help you feel and look your best all summer long. Thanks to Vanity Fair, Fiji Water and Sebastian Professional for giving me the opportunity to represent their products and to the crew at Vidicom in New York City for another smooth production.

Before you dive in to the video, let me wish everyone a safe and Happy 4th of July. Don’t forget the sunscreen and to designate a driver if you’re driving to and from your holiday fun. Here’s to barbecues, burgers, fireworks and all the things that help us have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

“Kicking” off 43 With a Bang – and a Punch!

img_3806On this Motivation Monday, I find myself another year older. Hopefully that means I’m also another year wiser, but it’s probably still too early to tell.

I think it’s safe to say birthdays present the perfect opportunity for reflection. While I reminisced about the many experiences that will forever define my forty-second year on Earth, it was no surprise the most defining moments were those that involved family and friends. Many of those moments were happy ones. Others were the complete opposite. The reality is I begin living my forty-third year missing a few very special people. However, while they’ve been taken from this world physically, the memories of their love and friendship will remain a source for smiles and strength for all the years to come.

I was truly blessed to celebrate another birthday with both my parents. Their love and guidance have made me the woman I am today. I’m equally blessed to say I’ve never felt healthier or stronger – both physically and mentally – than I do right now. That strength was tested many times in the past year as I found myself along with several of my closest friends dealing with some very “grown-up” challenges: Family members suffering from attacks on their physical and mental well-being; sweet children growing up to become troublesome teens; job security growing less secure and relationships breaking up.

In a world filled with so much uncertainty, one thing I can control year after year is how I take care of my body. Exercising and eating healthy continue to help keep my immune system strong even when events and emotions seem overwhelming. Of course, the other “thing” that continues to work for me is embracing the everything-in-moderation mentality. That’s why I refused to feel zero guilt about my birthday snack featuring a chocolate – peanut butter cupcake and a glass of champagne. It felt equally good hitting the healthy reset button the day after my birthday by blending an Isagenix protein shake and hitting the gym.

With ILoveKickboxing Instructor, EJ

With ILoveKickboxing Instructor, EJ

Speaking of the gym, another thing I learn year after year is you’re definitely never too old to try something new. Some of my longtime readers may remember several years ago I enjoyed sparring with my personal trainer Roberto once or twice a week. A hand injury took me out of that game for awhile, but thanks to the recommendation of my gal pal Elisa, I decided to get back into the punching world and signed up for ILoveKickboxing.com.

After one sweat-filled 50-minute class last week, I was riding a crazy endorphin-filled high. I also laughed to myself thinking about how I could have crushed some serious stress if only I had I had started punching and kicking a heavy bag sooner! The class is a cardio, strength and endurance experience featuring boxing gloves, heavy bags and non-stop drills of core exercises ranging from mountain climbers to push-ups as well as solo and partner-friendly rounds of jabs, hooks, upper cuts and kicks. I am excited to add this new workout to my exercise regimen for the year ahead (which still includes Physique57 classes and Tabata training) and see how it helps take my physical and mental strength to another level.

So, I guess this is a roundabout way of saying taking control of your health is something anyone can do at any age or fitness level. Don’t be afraid to strike out and try something new. There’s no doubt the road ahead can trip us up at any time with bumps, twists and turns. Instead of looking back, use the lessons of the past to catapult you into the future and all the opportunities calling you to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Get Ready to FALL into Fitness!

Here Comes the Fall!

Here Comes the Fall!

Is it me, or does the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day fly by faster with each passing year? I know the calendar says we still have 16 days until the official start of autumn, but for me, summer ends with Labor Day. Sigh. I hope everyone enjoyed the end of the season and that the new month is off to a strong start.

One thing I love about September is the fact that all the back-to-school buzz makes this the perfect time to re-focus your attention on getting your health and fitness routine in tip-top shape. Maybe you’re thinking: “Laura, are you kidding? I’m too busy trying to get the kids back on a regular schedule, I have no time to even think about working out!” Well, why not turn that challenge into an opportunity? As you help the family re-adjust to the non-summer-Friday work weeks and new start times for school and after-school activities, it’s also the time to fit some fitness into your own routine. Who deserves to carve out some time get that daily dose of much-needed endorphins? The answer is simple – YOU!

Here are some tips to set the pace for a FITASTIC fall ahead:

  • Seek Out New Schedules & Offers:  Group fitness schedules often change in September. Maybe this is the season that total body conditioning class finally fits into your schedule. Be sure to ask about any back-to-school specials, including friends and family rates. This is a great time to make exercise a family affair or schedule bi-weekly workouts with a buddy!
  • Fall Into Healthy Eating Habits: Packing lunch for the kiddies? Add just a few more minutes to the prep time and create some healthy snacks or small meals for yourself. I spend approximately 30 minutes every Sunday slicing and dicing veggies including peppers, celery sticks and carrots and then pack them in reusable containers. I can grab a portion anytime as a healthy snack or side dish or I can mix the veggies with brown rice for a mini-meal. Some of my other favorite go-to eats include raw almonds, green apples and hard boiled eggs.
  • Put It In Writing: If you drive your kids to school or your spouse to the train station, figure out if there’s time immediately following a drop-off or right before a pick-up for a workout. You could hit the gym for a group exercise class, drive a few more blocks to the park for a run or meet a friend for a brisk walk. Typing the activity in to your smart phone task list or putting an old-fashioned sticky note on the fridge is a great visual boost to keep that workout on the schedule.
  • Ten Minutes of Something is Better than Nothing!  As time seems to grow more precious each day, there are plenty of workouts geared toward gaining maximum results in less time.Click here for a refresher on my “Tear-It-Up-in-Ten Circuit”  Do you really only have five minutes to spare? No problem. Click here for a reminder on how you can burn some calories and get the heart pumping with the four-minute Tabata workout.
  • Wardrobe Prep Do you help your kids pick out their clothes before they go to bed? Then go ahead and put out your own morning workout gear, too! Put your clothes in the bathroom the night before. It’s usually the first room we visit after we wake up, so if your clothes are staring you in the face, it may be harder to ditch the workout. If you’re exercising after work, pack your gym bag the night before and leave it by the door to grab on your way out. (And don’t forget to grab one of your prepped snacks for some healthy fuel, too!)

Finally, it’s important to remember getting fitness on your schedule and healthy foods into your fridge are two big steps toward a healthier you in the season ahead. During my annual August blogging hiatus, I had many conversations with several different gal pals (who also happen to be great moms) about their frustration over falling off the fitness wagon over the summer. Between keeping the kids entertained and all the BBQs, they found themselves eager to get back into a leaner, meaner routine. I’ll tell you what I told them: leave the “sins of the summer” in the past, but keep the memories close in your heart. Just as the leaves are sure to fall in the days ahead, you’ll soon find yourself back on track with your efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Little Support Goes a Long Way!

My Support Team

My “Support Team”

It happens at this time every year. The temperatures go up and the clothes come off. Everywhere I look, there are people running, biking and boot-camping either on the city streets or throughout Central Park and the other outdoor hot spots all over New York City. I always love seeing people getting their daily dose of endorphins, but there is one sight that pains me: a woman with too big of a bounce in her, uh, step…because she’s not wearing a supportive sports bra!

On this Motivation Monday, I apologize for leaving the guys out of the conversation, but I’ve seen enough to know it’s never a bad idea to remind women about the importance of having the right support above the belt. I often write about replacing your sneakers every six months to ensure you have a solid base for your workouts. Well, breast tissue needs protection, too.

Breasts have zero muscle, but without proper support, the skin and ligaments near the breasts which give them their size and shape can break down and eventually cause sagging. (The kicker: once those ligaments stretch out, they don’t bounce back!) Whatever your size, you will experience some sort of bouncing during exercise. So every woman needs to wear a sports bra whether she’s power walking, full-on running or exercising in any way that involves some bounce.

So, what sports bra works for me? As my repeat readers already know, I’m not a runner. (For all those reading this post who are runners, I’d recommend looking for a combination compression / encapsulation bra for maximum support.) Since I am addicted to things like the elliptical machine, barre classes and Tabata training. For these activities, I’ve recently become a huge fan of the Athleta line of sports bras. The Full Focus (seen in lime green in the photo above) and Double Dare (in fuchsia) bras are made of soft, moisture-wicking material and offer comfortable, yet solid support for everything in my routine from pulsing and squeezing at the Physique57 barre to mountain climbers. The Double Dare bra even has a double vent in the back to keep me feeling cool on the city’s hottest days.

For less intense activities, like a leisurely stroll or serious stretch session, I like tanks with built-in shelf-bras. Then there’s my other new low-impact favorite: the Coobie bra, seen in the above photo with a striped design. I think this may actually be the most comfortable bra I’ve ever worn to date!

Once you find the right sports bra, you can usually expect it to have a six-month lifespan with some good ol’ TLC in the washing and drying department. So, if it’s been six months since you bought your last pair of sneakers, then it might be a good time to make a trip to the workout wear department to find a new sports bra, too. Remember, having the right support for every part of your body is a crucial component on the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

 

 

 

Big Goals & Baby Steps

VictoryWay to go – you made it to the second Motivation Monday of 2016! So, how was your first week of the New Year?

I received many inspiring messages during the week from friends around the country telling me about their health and fitness goals for 2016. Not surprisingly, the majority of those goals had to do with losing weight.

Some had a specific target in mind for shedding those pounds. Karen, for example, wants to be 25 pounds lighter by June in time for her first cruise. With healthy weight loss clocking in at around two pounds per week, she’s set a realistic goal for a six-month period. And that’s the key – keeping it real.

So I thought this would be the perfect time to offer some tips on how to keep reality in check and not feel overwhelmed by your goals.

  1. Drop and give me a plank! You’re sticking to that resolution to add 10 minutes of extra time to your daily walk. Good for you! Now drop and give me some planks to attack your core strength. Click here for a refresher video on how to add planks and other full-body exercises to your routine in just four minutes thanks to Tabata training.
  2. Start your day with the right fuel. I believe in the power of a healthy breakfast. Aim for a “clean” meal of scrambled eggs with a slice of toasted Ezekiel or other sprouted bread. On the run? Grab a hard-boiled egg or non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Extra Tip: adding fresh fruit to your yogurt is a lower-sugar option to the flavored varieties. These protein-packed options will keep you full longer than starchy, sugary items like frozen waffles or pancakes.
  3. Never leave home without healthy snacks. There’s nothing worse than going grocery shopping with a rumbling stomach or being greeted at the shopping mall with the scent of cinnamon invading your nostrils from  from the food court. What will you find in my bag? I love KIND snacks, especially the bars. They contain no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols and provide a balanced combination of healthy fats, protein and complex carbs. The bonus? They’re yummy!
  4. Out of sight, out of mind. Yes, I’m all about moderation. But I also have a hard time not going overboard when certain temptations are lurking in my kitchen cabinets. That’s why I don’t keep things like cookies or candy in the house. I freely admit I’m incapable of eating just one cookie or one piece of chocolate. I envy those who can. If you’re like me, then seriously, just don’t buy it. For the parents out there, it’s never too early to get your kids started on healthy habits. Push the apple slices and peanut butter snacks on a normal basis and save the treats for special occasions.
  5. Steer clear of quick fixes. Any diet plan that’s too restrictive is bound to backfire. I would never tell someone not to enjoy their favorite indulgence every now and then. The key is training yourself to monitor portions and make whole food choices. If you don’t, once the juice cleanse or shake-diet is over and done with and you reintroduce real food into your life, you risk going right back to consuming too many calories and the weight can creep right back.

Remember, this is NOT a sprint. Healthy choices take time to develop into habits, and those habits will continue to become a part of lifelong marathon. Celebrate each and every healthy choice you make and active step that you take as part of your effort to stay the course on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Fit Gifts for Everyone on Your List!

iStock_000014614375SmallThis Motivation Monday brings us somewhere between burning off the remaining traces of those turkey leftovers and crossing off the names on your holiday shopping list. With less than one week till Hanukkah and about four weeks till Christmas, I thought I’d offer some ideas for the health and fitness fanatics in your life.

Laura’s Top Five Fitness Gifts for 2015:

  • C9 Flat Resistance Band Set – This three-band set makes it tough to make excuses! Use them in any hotel room, the guest room at grandma’s house or in the comfort of your own home when you’re snowed in this winter. It even comes with a user guide to help get going.
  • Yoga mats and reusable water bottles never go out of style. The Contigo AUTOSEAL® Kangaroo water bottle even has a place to stash your gym ID, keys or some cash during your workout.
  • Looking for the perfect stocking stuffers? Check out the many styles of Sparkly Soul sports and fitness headbands. Whether it’s a cardio sweat session or a pulse-and-squeeze Physique57 class, these no slip, no headache headbands are a great addition to my workout wear. Another idea: SportsFood, Inc. electrolyte strips. No sugar, no calories, no water needed. Just pop one in your mouth before your workout and another one midway through and help your body replenish those all-important electrolytes.
  • Wellness Tea of the Month– If you’re looking for a healthier twist to those libation-of-the-month memberships, this six-month Republic of Tea subscription could be the answer. Each month, a new tea arrives ranging from “Get Active” to “Get Restored.”
  • If you know someone who wants to dabble in the mixology of nutritious fruits and veggies or is craving a smoother version of their favorite protein shakes, a blender can help! I’ve heard rave reviews about the Nutri Ninja®.

Any other items on your healthy holiday wish list? I’d love to hear about them! Remember, if you’re braving the crowds at the stores or shopping online, it’s important to find a few quiet moments for yourself during the holidays. Whether it’s some quality gym time, a couple of quick Tabatas at home or a nice soak in the tub, carving out some time for a little personal peace and joy this season is a surefire way to manage the holiday hustle and bustle and still have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Beach Plank Tabata Encore

Here’s hoping this Motivation Monday finds you rested and maybe looking a little sun-kissed after a happy fourth of July weekend!

I’m happy to report I enjoyed plenty of beach and BBQ time. However, that left very little time for writing. So, after a fun-filled weekend, I hope you don’t mind this re-boot of one of my summertime videos. It features my favorite core exercise done on my favorite setting on the planet. If you’re looking for ways to bring your workout moves out of the gym and into the great outdoors this season, look no further than the beach plank Tabata.

I hope your first day back to reality isn’t too manic and that the week ahead offers plenty of opportunities for you 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!

Time to Talk Turkey!

Thanksgiving feastThe countdown to the official start of the 2014 holiday season is really winding down now. As this Motivation Monday brings us just a few days shy of Thanksgiving and kicks off for what’s an abbreviated week for many, I figured it couldn’t hurt to offer my annual tip sheet for how to get through the calorie-loaded holiday.

For me, Thanksgiving is right up there with the Fourth of July. I love the fact it’s a 100% American holiday with no gifts required. The only requirements are giving thanks for the blessings in your life and enjoying some quality time with family and friends. Of course, that time tends to be filled (stuffed is more like it) with food, drink and football. Here are a few ways to keep things under control:

  • Get moving: Even if you’re cooking and can’t leave the house, you can wake up and pop in an exercise DVD or bang out a Tabata or two wherever you have space to do push-ups or burpees. If you can get out but have to cut your workout time in half, take a brisk power walk or abbreviated run. If your gym is open, get to a morning group exercise class or at least bang out some cardio and core work.
  • Don’t skip breakfast: Just like every other morning, be sure to eat something sensible to get your metabolism going. If your Thanksgiving feast isn’t scheduled until late afternoon, make sure to follow breakfast with a small lunch or sensible snack so you don’t go overboard later. One of my favorite fillers is non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a serving of almonds mixed in. The protein-rich snack keeps me full for hours!
  • Use a smaller plate (like a salad dish) for your meal: If there’s salad or veggies, load up on those first, then take some turkey. Use the remaining space for the potatoes, stuffing and other starches. (There 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 about 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 – before moving on to dessert, of course!
  • Watch the alcohol intake: This is a good day to follow the every-other-drink-is-alcohol plan. Enjoy a glass of wine, beer or cocktail then have a glass of water of diet soda before moving on to the next libation.
  • Give away leftovers: Hosting the holiday feast? Don’t be shy about giving some of the uneaten turkey and trimmings to your guests.

If you have any “secrets” that help you enjoy the holiday without waking up feeling guilty on Black Friday, I’d love to hear about them! The holiday season is definitely challenging when it comes to watching our waistlines, but the good news there are some tricks that can help you continue your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

%d bloggers like this: