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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!

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Time to Stock up for Summer

Bring on Summer!

I’ve decided if I keep writing about summer-related topics, Mother Nature will eventually get the hint and it will start to feel like we’re approaching the midway mark for the month of June. So on this Motivation Monday, I offer a list of the must-have items to for a season filled with outdoor workouts and sunshine-filled fun with family and friends.

1. Don’t Ignore Those Tootsies! As we speed toward the halfway mark of 2018, now’s the time to think about the last time you got a new pair of sneakers. If you’re a serious runner or involved in high-impact exercise and it’s been six months or longer, it’s time to consider getting a new pair. Every fitness routine needs the proper footwear to ensure you’re getting the right amount of stability and support.

2. Protect the Girls!  Ladies, it’s also time to take stock of the last time you invested in a supportive sports bra. 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 level of bounce 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 gets you moving. (In case you’re wondering what I wear for kickboxing, barre workouts and Tabata training, I’m a huge fan of the Athleta line of sports bras. )

3. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! As a former coconut-scented tanning oil addict who now gets annual scans of the many moles on my body, I implore you to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. There are so many lightweight SPF 30 and higher sunscreen options available today. That means there is no excuse for not wearing sunscreen for a long summer stroll or a super-sweaty session of beach volleyball. If the skin on your face is super sensitive like mine, you may want to give La Roche-Posay Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid a try. It’s been my go-to for years.

4. Smart Snacks: Planning to spend a good part of the day away from your healthy home base? Arming yourself with sensible snacks is a surefire way to avoid making less-than-optimal choices. While scenic, those mood-boosting long walks often don’t have much to offer by way of fuel except for hot dog vendors or vending machines filled with sugary drinks and candy bars. So be sure to pack some healthy, portable options such as almonds, apples or low-sugar protein bars. My go-to: KIND snack bars.

5. Portable Hydration: Last but certainly not least, don’t go anywhere without a reusable water bottle. (You can even fill it with ice cubes and enjoy chilled water as they melt.) Since we lose essential  potassium and sodium when we sweat, my repeat readers know I never I never leave home without a bottle of BFit Rapid Electrolyte Spray. (Zero calories, zero carbs and zero food dyes.)

Remember, a little prep and having the right items in your arsenal can make all the difference when it comes to sticking with your summer plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

‘Tis the OTHER Season for Sneezin’

It really doesn’t seem fair. After suffering though one of the dreariest winters in years, many of us are spending every possible moment outdoors minus the winter coats and soaking up some much needed vitamin D. Unfortunately as the mercury rises, so do the tree and grass pollen counts. That means we’ve started a whole new season of agony for the 50 million allergy sufferers around the country.

So on this Motivation Monday, I offer a few survival tips that have helped this life-long allergy sufferer continue to enjoy those outdoor workouts and other fun times in the sun:

  • 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 make sure to use eye drops before heading outdoors. My Dad told me about Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway eye drops several years ago. 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 to get 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 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 wake up and then workout outside, ask your doctor if taking your medication at bedtime can help.
  • Clean up ASAP: 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.

Of course, there will be days when the pollen counts are simply too high for allergy sufferers to be comfortable outdoors for extended periods of time. The bottom line remains the same: listen to your body. If you’re trying to so something good by exercising outdoors but feeling nothing but misery, be smart. Stop; head indoors; wash up and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you sign up for an air-conditioned group exercise class or bang out some Tabatas at home to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

The Countdown to Spring Continues…

Can’t Wait to Take the Action Outside!
Photo by: Leslie Hassler

The calendar says this is the last Motivation Monday of the winter of 2017. Here in New York and much of the Northeast, however, we’re bracing for yet another potentially messy storm to arrive on the first day of spring. If you’re like me and sick and tired of bundling up in the cold weather gear as March marches on, then I propose we shift our focus to the warmer days that will eventually arrive.

Thinking about ways to spice up your health and fitness routine for the new season ahead is a great way to shake off what’s left of the winter blues. However, instead of creating an overwhelming healthy to-do list, why not try this: change just one thing in your routine this week. Sometimes making a small adjustment to your daily grind is all you need to jump-start a chain reaction of fun, positive changes. Not sure where to start? Here are five simple ideas: 

  1. Try a new workout: Have you been curious about those sign up sheets for outdoor bootcamp classes in a park near you?  Been curious about trying some Tabata training outdoors? Maybe they’ve added a new group exercise class or two at your gym. Now’s the perfect time to mix things up! Find a fitness buddy to join in the fun and get an extra shot of positive energy from spending a sweat session with a supportive pal. 
  2. Grab some new fitness gear: Sometimes a bright pair of yoga pants or tank is all you need to perk up your routine. And if you still haven’t tried my go-to fitness essential – BFIT Rapid Electrolyte Spray – now’s the time to order a bottle or two. The zero-calorie, zero-sugar, great tasting sprays will help me stay hydrated and fueled during all my indoor and outdoor spring workouts. 
  3. Make a new playlist: Don’t be shy about asking your instructors about the music he or she plays to keep you going. Now with Spotify, Apple Music and other music sharing options, it’s easier than ever to find the right beats for your body.
  4. Move for a cause: Sign up for a walk or run that supports something that moves you and /or consider supporting family and friends in their own efforts. I’m sad this is the first spring in four years I won’t be training for another Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, but I am eager to learn about Avon’s new direction as it continues its efforts through the Breast Cancer Crusade. 
  5. Add a new fruit or veggie to your diet: Toss blueberries or strawberries into that morning smoothie or bowl of oatmeal; add half an avocado to your egg white omelet or pair an apple with almonds, a non-fat plain Greek yogurt or your grab-and-go snack of choice.

Remember, sometimes adding one new thing to the mix is all you need to stay on track with turning your healthy goals into a reality. Here’s to the coming spring and a whole new season of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A LauraLovesFitness Christmas Tradition Continues

Here we go again! This Motivation Monday post brings us exactly seven days away from another Christmas. Keeping up with tradition, this will not only be my last post of the year, but it’s also a chance for me to offer my signature fitness-inspired twist on a holiday classic. Today I give you…

The 12 Days of Fitness

On the first day of fitness, my workout gave to me…a super surge of endorphins.

On the second day of fitness, my workout gave to me…two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the third day of fitness, my workout gave to me…three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the fourth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the fifth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the sixth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the seventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…seven side kicks, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the eighth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….eight back punches, seven side kicks, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge endorphins.

On the ninth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…nine jabs and crosses, eight back punches, seven side kicks, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the tenth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….ten roundhouse kicks, nine jabs and crosses, eight back punches, seven side kicks, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the eleventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…eleven side planks, ten roundhouse kicks, nine jabs and crosses, eight back punches, seven side kicks, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the twelfth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…twelve reps of lunges, eleven side planks, ten roundhouse kicks, nine double jabs, eight back punches, seven side kicks, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

Whatever you and your family are celebrating as another year winds down, I wish you a very happy and healthy holiday ahead. I close with a heartfelt thank you for all the support throughout another year filled with ups and downs. Here’s to ringing in 2018 with a bang and welcoming all the new chances   to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous. See you next year!

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!

A Festive End to 2016: The 12 Days of Fitness

Christmas treeI truly can’t believe this is the last Motivation Monday before Christmas. Keeping up with tradition, this will not only be my last post of the year, but it’s also a chance for me to offer my fitness-inspired twist on a holiday classic.  Today I give you…

The 12 Days of Fitness

On the first day of fitness, my workout gave to me…a super-surge of endorphins.

On the second day of fitness, my workout gave to me…two tighter thighs and a super-surge of endorphins.

On the third day of fitness, my workout gave to me…three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super-surge of endorphins.

On the fourth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the fifth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the sixth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the seventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the eighth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….eight pulse and squeezes, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the ninth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…nine neuromuscular benefits, eight pulse and squeezes, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the tenth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight pulse and squeezes, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the eleventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…eleven eccentric muscle actions, ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight pulse and squeezes, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the twelfth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…twelve reps of lunges, eleven eccentric muscle actions, ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight pulse and squeezes, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

Whatever you and your family are celebrating as another year winds down, I wish you a very happy and healthy holiday ahead. I close with a heartfelt thank you for all the support throughout a tumultuous year. Here’s to the New Year ahead filled with so many new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous. See you next year!

Healthy Holiday Tips for the Mind

iStock_000014747161SmallIt’s hard to believe this Motivation Monday brings us less than two weeks away from Christmas and Hanukkah. As crunch time dwindles away, the items on our to-do list only seem to grow every day. Along with the daily work grind and family responsibilities, many of us wish there were more hours in the day to get all the other holiday “stuff” done: deciding who’s been naughty and nice; decorating; extra cooking; party planning; attending holiday parties and concerts; card writing; and spending extra time with extended family. Add online shopping and searching for recipes to the everyday stimuli of emails, texts, and status updates…and it’s no wonder our hustled-and-bustled minds are in overdrive.

So while I implore you to fit that quick-hit workout into your daily routine, it’s equally important to steal another few precious moments to re-boot. Here a few tips to make it happen:

  • Focus on one thing at a time: If you set aside an hour to write holiday cards or wrap gifts, make sure that’s all you do during those 60 minutes. No texts. No emails. No multiple posts on Instagram. Worried about withdrawal? Use social media to alert your network you’ll be offline and in elf mode for a bit.
  • Step away from the computer: I understand the need to check email once before bedtime to make sure you didn’t miss any late-day developments on the work front. However, try to shut down at least 30 minutes before bedtime to get your brain in mellow mode. The same goes for social media. The Facebook world will continue to spin if you don’t wish it good night.
  • Turn off the TV: Try to establish one night where you set the DVR and turn a show’s normal viewing time into down time with family or friends. Play cards or a board game and forget about the holiday craziness for awhile. It may turn into a night of getting the Christmas chaos under control, but it’ll be time to tackle the holiday to-do list with fewer distractions.
  • Make me-time a must: If you’ve committed to finding 10 minutes (or more) in your schedule to exercise, add a measly five more minutes to stretch. Then add up to five more minutes to your post-workout shower. At this time of year, I always have a lavender-scented body wash or moisturizer in my arsenal to help me decompress in that nighttime shower. (I like Aveeno.) Also, don’t underestimate the power of caffeine-free teas or scented candles. I recently discovered Twinings Nightly Calm® tea and love it.

So as this joyous yet hectic season marches on, if you find yourself wanting to throw your hands up and scream “Bah Humbug,” rest assured you’re not alone. While I applaud any effort to make time to exercise even when you’re jingling all the way, I also want to stress the importance of standing still for a few moments, too. Never underestimate the power of your mind on the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Let’s Talk Turkey, and Trimmings and….

iStock_000004795159MediumOn this Motivation Monday, I offer my annual dose of Thanksgiving-infused inspiration to get this particular week started off strong.

I look forward to this all-American holiday every year because it’s a chance to stop and give thanks for all the good things in our lives. What better way to slow down than spending some quality time with family and friends? Of course, a lot of that time ends up being stuffed with food and drink. Between snacking and sitting down for a traditional turkey-with-all-the-trimmings 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. So, I thought I’d get these survival tips posted a few days in advance of the calorie-filled holiday ahead:

  • Move it! Don’t skimp on the activity this week. Remember, ten minutes of exercise are always better than zero. The bonus is you’ll have the mental boost knowing you made an effort prior to the Turkey Day feast. 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 first thing in the morning. Or sneak out for some fresh air and 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 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 sensible snack so you don’t go overboard later. Two ideas: non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a serving of almonds mixed in 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.
  • Portion Control: Use a salad or other small dish for your meal. Start with salad or veggies and then add the 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 – before moving on to dessert, of course!
  • Keep Track of the Libations: This is the perfect day to follow the every-other-drink-is-alcohol plan. Enjoy a glass of wine, beer or cocktail then have a glass of still or sparking water before moving on to the next cocktail.
  • Make Doggie Bags! Hosting the holiday feast? Don’t be shy about giving some of the uneaten turkey and trimmings to your guests.

Let me offer my heartfelt wishes for everyone to enjoy a very Happy Thanksgiving! Each year, I’m even more thankful for so many things including my family, my friends, my health and for the support I receive from my “fitfam,” which includes all my loyal readers. One final note: If you end up breaking the calorie bank this Thanksgiving, don’t sweat it. Remember, laughter, good food and even some good wine are all ingredients in many holiday recipes for a happy heart and the soul and part of our ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 Starting Over…Sort Of

Felt SO Good to Get Back in the Gym Over the Weekend!

Felt SO Good to Get Back in the Gym Over the Weekend!

Whoever coined the phrase the lazy days of summer obviously never dealt with a move in the July heat. Now that my parents are slowly settling in their new home, I am thankful this Motivation Monday signals the start of my own return to normalcy.

Probably the most important part of re-establishing my routine involves getting exercise back on my schedule. Saturday marked the first time I stepped inside a gym in three weeks. That is simply excruciatingly too long for this fitness fanatic. However, between my production gigs; the hours of packing; scheduling and re-scheduling contractors and moving dates and the nasty summer cold that stole my energy and my voice, something had to give. However, I always reminded myself that the stress was temporary and eventually things would get better. As I sit on a Manhattan-bound train for the first time in weeks, I realize they already are.

We’re all tired and covered in scrapes and bruises thanks to some unexpected run-ins with furniture and box cutters. Yet we’re all healthy and looking forward to our annual escape to the beautiful Montauk beach.

I also look forward to getting back to my Physique57 workouts; enjoying small, healthy meals throughout the day and catching up with with friends I haven’t seen in forever. I also know I have to be patient with my body. While I’m probably in the best shape of my life at 42, I also know I need to give my body time to adjust to a vigorous exercise routine again. I will pay extra attention to stretching and staying hydrated. And I will constantly remind myself that I will start feeling like my strong self again soon.

Consider this my roundabout way of saying there are plenty of things in this life that will throw us off course. However, reminding yourself that the road will eventually lead to a familiar path is half the battle in getting there. If your summer to date has included more tacos than Tabatas or too many margaritas killed your motivation to make it to those early morning boot camp classes, don’t sweat it. Today is a new day and there’s still plenty of summer left to work on those plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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