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A Special Workout Wednesday Team Effort

One favorite you'll always find in my fridge!

One favorite you’ll always find in my fridge!

I hope everyone’s enjoying this first Workout Wednesday in October! With the mercury rising into the 80s today here in New York City today, I wish I was at the beach but I’ll gladly take the sunshine!

I returned from my morning cardio session to find a link ready to share to my guest appearance on another website today. Robin Plotkin is a registered dietitian,  nutrition expert and creator of RobinsBite.com. She lives in Dallas, TX and after meeting in Cyberspace through the land of Twitter, she asked me to share my food buying and eating habits to be featured in her “Inside the Fridge” series.  Click here to read my guest post.

I close with a big thank you to Robin for the opportunity to appear on her website and a wish for all of you to use the new month as a time to add some new healthy habits to your lifestyle so you can continue on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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Quick Hit Workout Wednesday

Workout or Chill Out? Each Has its Benefits for Your BodPhoto by Leslie Hassler

Workout or Chill Out?
Each Has Benefits for Your Body
Photo by Leslie Hassler

I really don’t know where the time is going, but here we are kicking off the eighth Workout Wednesday of 2013!

As the nickname suggests, this is the one day each week where I tend to push it even harder than usual at the gym. Also, the fact that I’ve found a new group exercise class to add to my arsenal of calorie-busting, muscle-boosting workouts makes Wednesday one of my favorite days of the entire week!

As I spent most of yesterday traveling back from Texas and didn’t have time for a typical workout, I’m even more eager to get back in action today. It’s amazing how good you can feel after one day of rest. In fact, there are countless studies out there proving why you need to take at least one day off each week. It’s during the rest that your muscles recover and actually have time to grow.

If you need more evidence that taking a day or two off can actually be beneficial for your well-being and possibly help you amp up your energy levels, I’m sharing a recent article from NYTimes.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it!

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/why-four-workouts-a-week-may-be-better-than-six/?src=me&ref=general

There are certain weeks when life will throw some curve balls at you and put the brakes on your typical fitness routine. The key is taking things one day at a time and making this day work for your life at this moment. If this Workout Wednesday turns into your rest day for the week, remember, down time is a crucial component in the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Why I’m Extra Happy it’s Workout Wednesday

iStock_000018985469SmallTwo words make this a much-needed day for a big-time calorie burn: Fat Tuesday.

If you’re like millions of people around the world, you spent yesterday indulging in some “sinful” treats ranging from chocolate chip pancakes to libations of different octane levels. My office added to the sugarfest by asking our resident bakers to whip up some goodies for all of us to enjoy as a late-afternoon treat.

While I’ll be extra glad to break a serious sweat at tonight’s “UXF Burn” class, there are a few reasons I refuse to be consumed by guilt over my behavior on this annual day of decadence:

  1. It happens once in a 365-day period.
  2. For the past seven years, Fat Tuesday has fallen on the same day of the week as my favorite group exercise class. I’m just sure to kick things up an extra notch at NYSC’s Club Strength on this specific Tuesday where I tend to throw moderation out the window.
  3. Workout Wednesday immediately follows Fat Tuesday.

If you went a little overboard yesterday, you have some extra motivation to make today’s workout count! Not sure you need the boost? Consider this: pancakes rank at the top of the Fat Tuesday favorite-food list almost every year. If you enjoyed this crowd-pleaser at a restaurant like IHOP last night, remember each pancake weighs in at approximately 180 calories and six grams of fat. According to CalorieKing, burning off the calories in just one fluffy combination of sugar, flour and eggs would require 50 minutes of walking, 21 minutes of jogging, 15 minutes of swimming or 27 minutes of cycling. If you enjoyed a stack of four or five…well, you can do the math.

All that being said, I wrap up this post with a common LauraLovesFitness theme: life is simply too short to deny yourself the things you really enjoy. For me, that will always include chocolate and red wine. On the rare occasions I do splurge and enjoy those decadent items on the same day, I simply make it a point to get back on track with my healthy food choices the next day and add an extra ten or fifteen minutes to my workout. Finding a balance for all the things that bring you happiness is a challenging but critical part of our journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Flexibility Fix

Guess what? You’ve made it to the sixth Workout Wednesday of 2013!

In about another week, the exercise and healthy eating habits you started in January should start feeling more like a part of your daily routine. So whatever you do, don’t give up now!

Don't forget to stretch!

Don’t Forget to Stretch!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

I’m actually a little miffed with myself that it’s taken me until this point in the new year to remind you about one of the most crucial yet often overlooked part of a well-balanced exercise program: flexibility training. One of my biggest regrets in my life-long love affair with fitness is that it took me far too long to incorporate a healthy amount of flexibility training into my own routine. Since many of you are still working out some kinks in your exercise program, I didn’t want this habit-forming time to end without reminding you to take care of the kinks in your body, too!

What kind of kinks am I talking about? Well, unless you’re a runway model, chances are your posture isn’t the best thanks to countless hours spent sitting at a desk crouched over a keyboard or stuck behind the wheel commuting or shuttling the kids around town. If you’re on your feet all day or paint houses or work in construction, you can also suffer from tightness thanks to repetitive motions.

While I can’t assess the exact points of tension in your body, one of the most common problem areas are the latissimus dorsi, or lats, in your back.  I know when I’m on deadline at work and don’t take enough breaks to step away from the computer, my lats start screaming for some TLC.

So on this Workout Wednesday, here’s a look at one stretch for this sore spot that I think is worthy of an encore performance: the static latissimus dorsi ball stretch.

  1. The prep: Kneel in front of the stability ball with one arm on the ball and the other hand on the ground. (Training tip: For the arm that’s on the ball, make sure your thumb is pointed up.)
  2. The move: Draw your navel upward and reach forward with the arm that’s on the ball. You will feel a stretch along the side of your torso into the lower back.
  3. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Return to start position, switch sides and repeat.

Photos by Lauren Bachner
At Hype Gym

For an active variation on this stretch, you would prepare for and execute the stretch the same way. However, once you reach your arm forward, hold the stretch for 2 seconds, then roll back to the start and repeat for 5-10 reps. Switch sides and repeat.

As we move forward in 2013, don’t be surprised to find I re-visit the importance of flexibility training in any fitness program. Taking care of those tight muscles is a surefire way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Workout Wednesday: “Romper Room” Style

Laura_DeAngelis-8445

Smile & Remember:
Fitness CAN Be Fun!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

So here we are, four weeks after the start of 2013 and you’re sticking with those plans to make this year a healthy one. Way to go! If you’ve had a few off days, don’t sweat it. (Remember, this is the gal who abandoned her chopped veggies for a steady infusion of chocolate treats during a five-day vacation in Amsterdam!)

On this Workout Wednesday, I wanted to tell you about the new group exercise class I’ve become addicted to. If you’re looking for me on a Wednesday night, chances are you’ll find me front and center at the “UXF Burn” class offered at the New York Sports Club not far from where I live. NYSC describes the class as a 45-minute combination of cardio and strength training that can burn up to 600 calories in one class. However, I think the words of my high-energy instructor Lou offer a better definition of what makes the cross-training experience such a rush: “It’s Romper Room for adults.”

Lou starts us off with the necessary warm-up and then gets our hearts pumping with some killer cardio circuits for the first 25 minutes of class with a wide variety of moves including jumping jacks, ice skaters and high-knees. We then keep our heart rates up as we move through high-rep / moderate-weight circuits to work every muscle group with exercises ranging from squats with bicep curls to lat rows and kickbacks. Last week, instead of the whole class doing the same strength-training routine at once, she divided us into two sides for a “face-off.” Each side of the class had a series of six exercises to complete in 90-second intervals before switching sides. These included:

  • Bridge with chest press using a 15-20 pound weight
  • Jump rope
  • Double crunches
  • Dips using a step
  • Pikes

“Romper Room” indeed! The variety of exercises and the non-stop movement between each one makes this class fly by in record time for me. I can honestly say I have so much fun during this class I almost forget I’m actually working out, at least until the sound of my pounding heart fills my ears and sweat blinds my eyeballs!

I realize you may not have access to a class exactly like this one, and you may not even have any interesting in seeking one out. However, I hope telling you about my excitement over the addition to my routine serves as a reminder that exercise can be fun and even fitness veterans like me are always looking for new ways to enjoy working out. Whether it’s jumping rope or trying a new group exercise class  filled with moves that make you feel like a kid again, remember, variety is a key component to staying on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Different Kind of Workout Wednesday

Of course, there's workout wear tucked away for my trip!

Of course, I packed some workout wear!

This particular Workout Wednesday marks a first for me. Depending on what time you read this, I’ll either be getting ready for or in the midst of flying to Amsterdam! As I write this post, I’m beyond excited to meet up with my lifelong buddy Ania and her pal Tiffany for what’s sure to be a fun-filled adventure!

While I’ll be skipping the workout today, I do plan on making use of our hotel’s fitness center during the trip. While I’m gone, if you need a shot of motivation, don’t hesitate to scroll down to the “Search This Site” box on the right side of this page. If you type in anything from abdominals to Zumba, hopefully you’ll find something helpful from one of my previous 200+ posts.

I leave you with links to some “oldies but goodies” that offer tips on key training concepts. I hope they’ll help as you continue your hard work on turning those New Year’s resolutions into routine behavior:

My next post will appear on Monday, January 28th. In the meantime, feel free to leave comments or email me with any questions or with any topics you’d like me to touch on in the weeks ahead. Wishing everyone a great week and I look forward to returning with even more energy to continue on this journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Why Laura Loves the Stability Ball

It’s Workout Wednesday and you know that means? It’s time to get on the ball! Literally.

This past weekend, I did something I haven’t done in far too long. Since the cardio area was super crowded, I grabbed a stability ball and some free weights and got started on a total-body workout that kicked my endorphins into high gear. (The bonus: when I finished my stability ball workout, the traffic had died down a bit in the cardio area and I added 30 minutes of high-intensity elliptical training to round out my routine.)

What makes doing exercises on a stability ball so effective? The scientific explanation is that it creates a proprioceptively enriched environment for your workout. This type of environment challenges the internal balance and stabilization mechanisms of the body. When performing exercises on a stability ball, your body is forced to balance itself, which means you get the added benefit of working multiple muscles at once.

Think of it this way: If you lie on a bench to perform a chest press, you get good work for your pectoral muscles, but not much else. However, perform that same exercise on a stability ball and you have to draw in your navel and squeeze your glutes to remain stable and perform the exercise. Talk about a great way to get more from your exercise routine without spending countless more hours working out!

If you need one more reason to get on the ball, here it is: virtually every exercises performed on the ball works your core, which is responsible for stabilizing the rest of the body. Maintaining a strong core improves your performance in and out of the gym with daily activities ranging from walking up stairs to carrying groceries.

I leave you with some of my favorite stability ball exercises and would love to hear about yours. Remember, getting on the ball is a surefire way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Ball Bridge Start Position

Ball Bridge Start Position

Finish

Finish

DSC_3521

Ball Cobra Start

Ball Cobra Finish

Ball Cobra Finish

Ball Dumbbell Chest Press Start
Ball Dumbbell Chest Press Start

Finish

Finish

Overhead Press Start

Overhead Press Start

Finish

Finish

Tricep Extension Start

Triceps Extension

All photos by Lauren Bachner

All photos by
Lauren Bachner

Workout Wednesday: The 12 Days of Fitness Re-Boot

Christmas treeIt’s hard to believe this marks the last Workout Wednesday I’m actually working in 2012. As you read this post, I’m in Salem, Massachusetts producing a video shoot, which also marks my last video production for the year.

In an effort to start winding down on a lighter note, and also add a bit of levity to a still difficult time in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I’m bringing back one of my “fun” posts from 2011. Hope you enjoy my fitness-minded twist on a holiday classic:

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

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

On the third day of fitness, my workout gave to me…three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a huge rush 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 huge rush 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 huge rush 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 huge rush 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 huge rush 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 huge rush 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 huge rush 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 huge 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 endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! A four-minute Tabata , three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a huge 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 endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! A four-minute Tabata, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a huge rush of endorphins.

Remember, don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holiday season put the brakes on your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Workout Wednesday: No Excuses!

iStock_000018191976XSmallYes, I know we’re smack in the middle of Hanukkah and only 13 days away from Christmas. I also realize we’re busy juggling everything from work or studying for final exams to taking care of the kids and managing the social calendar that’s probably chock full of holiday gatherings. Despite all this, it’s no time to skimp on getting your daily dose of physical activity.

If you’re saying, “but Laura, I can’t get to Zumba this week because my f avorite class is on the same night as my company’s holiday party” or “if I don’t go shopping after work tomorrow, I won’t have time the rest of the week,” listen up! That hour you normally dedicate to exercise might be filled this week, but if you have 10 minutes to spare a few times a day, you do have time to get moving! (Since 10 x 3 =30, getting in that half-hour of activity isn’t as tough as you think!)

Seriously, you owe it to yourself to find 10 minutes to move. It will help keep your mind healthy during the hustle and bustle of these frenetic December days, too! What can you do in 10 minutes?

  • Climb stairs: If you have them at home, you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas in the morning to make this happen. Take the stairs at the train station instead of the escalator. If you work in an office building, take the stairs instead of the elevator as often as possible.
  • Jump rope: This is a piece of workout gear everyone should have. You can pick one up anywhere from your local sports-gear shop to any Target or Walmart. Jumping rope on a soft surface like a carpet or low-cut grass will give your knees a bit of protection. If you’re brand new to jumping rope, try skipping over the rope alternating feet in 30-second increments and work up to more minutes as you go. Before you know it, you’ll want to keep skipping beyond those 10 minutes!
  • Divvy up the DVD time: Have a favorite 30-minute workout DVD? Break it up into 10 minute segments.
  • Transform your house into a gym: Any wall can be used for standing push-ups; stairs are great for calf raises and triceps dips and any floor is the perfect spot for planks and crunches!
  • Walk, walk and walk some more: I always say one of my favorite things about living in New York City is I simply do my best to walk anywhere and everywhere I can. At this time of year, that includes leaving work and meeting up with friends for some holiday cheer. If you’re driving to work, the grocery store or the mall, park a little further from the entrance. At lunch time, spend less time checking email or social media sites and take a 10-minute walk outside the office. The fresh air will do your brain some good, too!

Despite the hustle and bustle of the season, if you’ve got 10 minutes, you’ve got all the time you need to do something that can help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Not-So-Typical Workout Wednesday

In honor of this week’s Workout Wednesday, I’ll be….resting.

Why? Because despite all my efforts to take extra care of myself these past couple of weeks filled with travel, extra long  hours at the office and virtually zero days off, my body had enough and I came down with a cold. Now that I think about it, all the Yankees late-night playoff games probably served as the final straw in breaking down my immune system.

While my symptoms are mainly above the neck and I did get some cardio in after work on Monday, I could feel my body struggling even on the lower settings on the elliptical. When I finally got home, I was more tired than ever. So, it’s time for me to take a bit of my own advice and take it easy for a day or two. I’d rather be out of the game for a couple of days than risk running myself down even more and ending up with some sort of upper respiratory infection and then being sidelined for even longer.

Whether or not you’re feeling under the weather, rest is a crucial component to anyone’s health and fitness routine. If you don’t allow your body to rest and recover, you’re simply putting yourself at risk for overtraining. The following is a list of some of the symptoms of overtraining:

  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Amenorrhea (when a woman stops getting her monthly period)
  • Overuse or stress-related injuries (e.g. stress fractures, tennis elbow and runner’s knee)
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Slower recovery of heart rate
  • Decrease in strength performance
  • Constant muscle pain or soreness when moving, bordering on pain

Avoiding these symptoms doesn’t have to be difficult. Just give yourself a break now and then! A rest day allows for muscular repair and recovery of the central nervous system. For those who can’t imagine even one day without activity, you can still take a leisurely walk or bike ride, or maybe you can substitute that strength or cardio class with an extra-long stretch session.

On the other hand, if you want to enjoy a rest day curled up on the couch in your kick-around clothes reading a good book or catching up with your DVR, go for it! Remember, taking a rest day doesn’t mean you’re being lazy. It only means you’re giving your body the strength to get back in the game so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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