On this Motivation Monday, we’ve recovered from the turkey hangover but find ourselves ensconced in the hustle and bustle of the 2014 holiday season. While it’s known as “the most wonderful time of the year,” let’s not kid ourselves. It’s also a time filled with stress. How do we fit the shopping, decorating, card writing and other holiday prep into our days already filled with work, taking care of the kids and hosting or dropping in at a couple of holiday parties along the way?
Despite the crunch, this is not the time to put the sneakers and workout wear in the back of the closet until 2015. In fact, the extra stress and calories thrown into our already frenetic days should make finding time to exercise more important than ever. It could be just what both your mind and body need to let go and enjoy some holiday cheer!
No doubt the extra chores paired with fewer hours of daylight can make it feel like there are fewer hours in the day. If you normally spend more than an hour at the gym or take 90-minute power walks with your friends in the neighborhood, chances are you’re going to need to spend some of those minutes elsewhere. So, here are some tips on how to fit fitness into your busy holiday schedule:
- Switch things up: Try working out in the morning. If you can hit the gym, take a walk or break a sweat with some help from your favorite workout DVD first thing in the morning, you can cross exercise off your to-do list for the day. Two bonuses: you’ll be energized and focused thanks to the endorphin rush AND you’ll feel less guilty about having a treat or two at the holiday get-together in the evening.
- Try the group thing: Most group exercise classes run between 45 and 60 minutes and take the guesswork out of planning your own routine. Give total body conditioning or strength training classes a shot as they get your heart rate up and hit all the major muscle groups in a short window. The group environment also gives you the opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone who can share his or her own holiday season survival tips!
- Make shopping physical: If you drive to a mall, don’t look for the closest parking spot to the entrance. Also, be sure to wear walking shoes or cross trainers to keep your body moving efficiently while you rush from store to store.
- Arm yourself with healthy snacks: If you’re squeezing in a shopping trip between work and picking up the kids, chances are you’re in between meals and could be hit with a snack attack. Instead of letting the smell of cinnamon, chocolate or other decadent temptation get the best of you at the mall, be sure to have some almonds, an apple or snack bar in your bag (No matter what purse I leave the house with, there’s always a KIND bar stuck in one of the pockets).
- Don’t arrive hungry: Never show up for a holiday get-together feeling ravenous. If you’re eating late in the day, have portion-controlled healthy meals leading up to the main event and a snack up to an hour before arriving at the party. This can help you avoid grabbing the first high-calorie, high-fat item you see.
What are your tricks for getting through the holiday season? I’d love to know! Sharing ideas is one of the best ways to get through a busy season and stay on the path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
With the 2012 holiday hustle and bustle in high gear, there aren’t always enough hours in the day to come up with original material for my blog. So, I hope you’ll forgive my ending this particular work week with what I hope will be a little comic relief and some borrowed words for motivation.
First, thanks to my colleague and friend Valerie for this one:
For those of you who aren’t sure why the above definition holds true, here’s an encore presentation of the quick video I posted over the summer showing what the burpee looks like in action:
Finally, I offer a few words from some famous folks that I hope will motivate you to conquer burpees and all the other “tough stuff” life can throw at you:
“All things ar difficult before they are easy.”-Thomas Fuller
“If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.” -Vince Lombardi
“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.” -Roger Bannister
And finally, I figured this was the perfect quote to end a Friday post:
“Always so sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”-Ernest Hemingway
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend and plenty of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Here’s to making it to the end of another work week! As I am just back from vacation and try to re-adjust to the daily grind, I thought it was the perfect time to continue what I started last week: a quick Friday hit list. This time, I offer some of my favorite snacks.
As I mentioned in my previous installment Food & Fitness, I generally try to eat every three to four hours to keep my blood sugar at an even keel and avoid getting so hungry that I eat too much or the wrong foods at my next official meal. That means I’m always on the lookout for smart snack options that keep me fueled whether I’m on a shoot, gearing up for a good workout or simply reading a book on the beach. Here are some of my go-to items:
- At work: I always have single serve mini bags of 94% fat-free microwavable popcorn in my desk drawer. (Yet another tip learned through Weight Watchers.) Not only are the popped kernels filling, it takes some time to get through a bag, which leaves you no choice but to snack slowly.
- Pre-workout: I usually head to the gym after work, so an hour before I start my workout, I will eat a protein / carb mix. Three of my mix-and-match favorites include: one Weight Watchers string cheese with an apple, peach or nectarine; non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a serving of almonds or reduced fat Wheat Thins with Laughing Cow cheese spread.
- Pre-“big time” workout: I absolutely love peanut butter, but I have a hard time restraining myself to the “normal” serving size. However, Jif makes portable single serve cups. They are definitely packed with more calories and fat than I’d normally like to snack on. However, on a day where I couldn’t eat a normal, well-balanced lunch and I’m taking my weekly Club Strength class, I’ll “splurge” on a snack of one single-size peanut butter cup on two slices of Weight Watchers toast. (For a boost to this snack or any on this list, I’ll add an apple.)
- On the run: I always have a Fiber One bar in my backpack or purse. I get a chocolate fix while kicking hunger to the curb.
- In a pinch: a hot cup of green tea or chewing gum helps keep my hunger when eating a healthy snack isn’t on the menu.
If you have some different snack ideas, please send them along! (While you’re at it, let me know if you have any good music to add to the Music That Makes Me Move playlist I posted last week.) The information we share can only help us all on our journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
An old friend, Shannon Palermo, posted the following comment on my LauraLovesFitness Facebook page:
“So, what is the recommendation when it comes to cardio and stretching? I walk/run on a treadmill at home. Do I warm up then stretch or stretch first or stretch after? Also any suggested stretches? I recently pulled a muscle in my hip causing me to be sidelined with major hip and knee pain. I believe this is due to my lack of stretching and my need for new sneakers. ”
These questions raise several important issues, but first and foremost is the subject of pain. Whether you’re a fitness novice or trained athlete, if you really listen to your body, you can tell the difference between muscle soreness from an intense workout and pain that indicates something is wrong. If you experience “major” pain in any area, you could be suffering from an acute or cumulative injury. I’ve been the victim of many cumulative injuries because of one simple reason: I’ve ignored the warning signs and simply pushed through the pain.
If you experience pain that causes significant discomfort and doesn’t subside with ice and/or over-the-counter pain killers for more than a day or two, you should see your doctor. When you let an injury linger, other parts of your body will compensate for the injury, throwing off your body’s proper mechanics and causing postural distortions. In the end, an injury to your foot will lead to compensations that create stress on other parts of your body’s kinetic chain – and you can easily end up with pain in your knees, hips or back. For my friend Shannon, if you’re simply guessing that you pulled a muscle and haven’t seen a doctor, please make an appointment soon.
As for stretching: the jury may still be out on when to stretch, but there is no debate about the fact that everyone needs to include flexibility training in their workout routine. As I learned through my NASM training, countless studies show a link between decreased flexibility and injury. For example, decreased flexibility in the hamstrings and quadriceps significantly contributes to tendonitis in the knee.
NASM’s training model includes stretching as part of a warm up and again during the cool down period of your workout. The stretching-before-cardio-or-strength-training idea is stretch the muscles that may be tight so that you perform an exercise as optimally as possible and reduce the risk for improper movement and injury. For a runner like Shannon, it’s optimal to stretch certain muscles like the hamstrings and hip flexors before a hitting the treadmill or the road. Here are two links I found helpful about stretching:
We’ve only scratched the surface and I look forward to writing more about injury prevention and flexibility training , but I hope the information in this post is a good start to proving why stretching is a crucial part of our quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Our daily lives are filled with emailing, texting, Tweeting, blogging, DVR-ing, updating our Facebook status and searching the Internet for the latest information on the latest trends. In a world where we can easily suffer from sensory overload, I offer this fitness challenge for your mind: disconnect and re-boot.
Today is Wednesday. That means it’s no-TV night. You read correctly – every Wednesday, the TV stays off after work. No news, no “Sex & the City” re-runs, no Food Network…zip. Instead, after dinner, my husband and I decide what game to play. Whether it’s Gin Rummy, Backgammon, Monopoly, Uno or Scrabble, we focus on the game, focus on each other and leave all other distractions aside. That includes ignoring our text messages and any other electronic alerts. Sometimes there are no games, and we’ll just sit and talk or maybe look through old photo albums and laugh. It’s amazing what some good conversation and laughter can do for your overall well-being.
Depending on our schedules, these weekly “dates” may only be filled with an hour of two or no-TV activity, but it’s enough time to remember that we were interesting people before we ever started stressing over what witty status update or Tweet we would post next.
I realize every household is different, with everyone on different schedules juggling different responsibilities. Establishing a weekly time to get together may not be realistic, but perhaps every two weeks could work. Maybe it only involves an hour of time together while walking around the neighborhood, cleaning out a closet or finding a fun card or board game that two or more people can play. If you live alone, it’s no different. Your mind could use a break from all the gizmos and gadgets that bombard you all day long, too.
The bottom line is this: despite our demanding schedules, many of us make a conscious effort to fit exercise into our lives to take care of our physical health. So, why wouldn’t we make an effort to carve out some quality downtime to take care of our mental health, too?
Never underestimate the power of your mind. It plays a huge role in your ability to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!