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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!

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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!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Still Need Some Spring Fitness Ideas?

Photo by Leslie Hassler

Photo by Leslie Hassler

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

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

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

2. Take the Action Outside!

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

3. A Little Pick-Up, Anyone? 

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

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

It’s Time for Spring Cleaning!

A little spring cleaning for your health & fitness routine can keep you smiling! Photo by Leslie Hassler

A little spring cleaning for your health & fitness routine can keep you smiling! Photo by Leslie Hassler

We made it to the first Motivation Monday of April! Now’s the time to embrace three staples of the season: Yankees baseball, spring showers and spring cleaning! As you carve out some time to de-clutter the closets and desk drawers, remember this is also the perfect opportunity to get rid of what’s sabotaging your health and fitness goals, too!

Here are my top three tips to help you take stock of what’s working, what’s not and what new things you can look forward to this season:

  1. Do NOT Skip Meals! It seems everywhere we look at this time of year, we’re bombarded by ads pushing us to get that bikini-body ready pronto. One of the biggest mistakes people make in trying to make that happen is skipping meals. If you’re thinking “Well, if I skip some meals, I’ll consume fewer calories and I’ll lose weight,” think again! The reality is you’ll probably end up consuming the same amount of calories if not more because when you do eat, you’ll be ravenous and consume extra calories you didn’t need. Also, when you don’t eat for long periods of time, your blood sugar levels drop which can leave you feeling fatigued, less focused and less productive in general. Instead, go ahead and use this time to develop the healthy habit of eating smaller meals every few hours to keep your blood sugar stable and control your appetite.
  2. Clean Out the Closets, the Drawers…AND the Pantry!  I know it may hurt, but maybe it’s time to get rid of that college T-shirt with the permanent sweat stains. I’m not saying you should toss your school pride in the trash, but why not treat yourself an order an alumni shirt online? While you’re at it, add a few bright-colored, moisture-wicking items to freshly de-cluttered drawers. We all like getting new duds for the season, so why should your workout wardrobe be any different? While you’re getting rid of old stuff in your closets or drawers, let’s not forget the dust bunnies collecting on those sweet or salty treats that have been hanging around in the pantry since the holidays. I know no one likes to waste food, so if you can bring the leftover boxes or bags of treats  to an office or school break room (and you know you have the will power to avoid digging in) let some other people enjoy them. (Assuming they haven’t stuck around past their expiration date, of course!)
  3. Mix Up Your Workout Routine! Don’t let boredom stop you in your tracks! Check for new group exercise classes at the gym or see what workout opportunities exist in the great outdoors. Whether you bang out some Tabatas in your backyard, play kickball with a community group or take an extra long walk in the evening, now’s the time to use Mother Nature as the ultimate motivator.

With a whole new month to look forward to, now’s the time to explore the many different ways we can all have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Christmas Tradition Continues

Christmas treeThis Motivation Monday brings us just a few days away from Christmas 2015.  That means it’s time for what’s become a tradition here on my blog: my 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…a four-minute Tabata, 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! A four-minute Tabata, 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! A four-minute Tabata, 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 stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! A four-minute Tabata, 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 endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! A four-minute Tabata, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super-surge of endorphins.

On the ninth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! A four-minute Tabata, 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 minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! A four-minute Tabata, 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 eccentric muscle actions, ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! A four-minute Tabata, 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 eccentric muscle actions, ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! A four-minute Tabata, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super-surge of endorphins!

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead and to all who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas! I’m taking a mini-break for the holiday, but I’ll be back in the New Year with tips and tricks to help you attack 2016 with new energy to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Back-to-YOU Season is Here!

Keep Your Summer Memories Alive!

Keep Those Summer Memories Alive!

It happened again. I blinked and the unofficial end of summer, also known as Labor Day, came and went before I could figure out how all the days since Memorial Day slipped by so quickly. I hope everyone enjoyed a season filled with sun, fun, family and friends and that your September is off to a great start.

New Year’s is often touted as the perfect time to get your health and fitness routine in tip-top shape. However, I think this back-to-school season offers another opportunity to re-focus your attention on making healthy changes in your life. Why? It’s simple: this is when we adjust to the non-summer-Friday work weeks along with new start and stop times for school, sports and all the other activities that fill up our hectic lives. That makes this the ideal time to fit some fitness into the waning days of summer and get a routine in place for a FITASTIC fall ahead!

New Opportunities Await!

New Opportunities Await!

Here are some tips to get yourself in a feel-good groove:

  • Stay Alert for New Workouts: Many gyms offer a new group fitness schedule in September. Maybe this is the season that cardio kick box class fits into your schedule. Also, ask about any back-to-school specials. Some fitness centers may offer their spin on friends and family rates. Talk about the perfect reason to make exercise a family affair or schedule a bi-weekly workout with a buddy!
  • 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 fitness friend for a brisk walk or game of tennis. 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.
  • “Fall” Into Healthy Eating Habits: If you pack lunch for the kiddies, why not add just a few more minutes to the prep time and make some healthy snacks or meals for yourself? I spend about 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, side dish or to mix with brown rice for a mini-meal. Some of my other go-to eats include raw almonds, green apples and non-fat plain Greek yogurt.
  • Wardrobe Prep Do you help your kids pick out their clothes before they go to bed? Why don’t you plan your own morning workout wardrobe, too! Put your gear 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!

 

 

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