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Back to the Grind

Still Dreaming About the Beach…

Happy September! I hope you’re a little distracted reading this post thanks to some wonderful sun-kissed memories from a fun-filled summer capped off by a great Labor Day weekend.

With a new school year in session and the no-more-summer-Fridays work grind in full effect, it’s time to get back to reality. The lazy days of summer may be ending, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to still incorporate some fun into the new season’s schedule, especially when it comes to your fitness routine.

For anyone who feels like they’ve fallen off the health and fitness wagon thanks to all the barbecues, margaritas and other summer favorites, don’t sweat it! I’ve always considered back-to-school season a perfect time to get back on track with your goals for the remainder of the year. I know things are hectic, but if you’re busy getting the rest of the family’s schedule in order, don’t forget to pencil in time for you, too. That means getting exercise on the daily planner.

So today, I encourage everyone to use this transition time to remember the three Fs of fitness: it should be fun; it should be functional and it can even be free!

Fitness with Friends is ALWAYS Fun!

Just last week, I was reminded how exercise can be all three (and more!) during the most amazing group exercise class I’ve ever experienced. Thanks to my gal pal, Rita Joan, I learned about a unique workout opportunity aboard the flight deck of the USS Intrepid here in New York City. For one hour, we sweat it out with hundreds of other fitness lovers of all ages, shapes and sizes. For the first 30 minutes, we pushed through everything from squats to single-leg balance reaches as part of an Ironstrength workout lead by its creator and sports medicine guru Dr. Jordan Metzl. Those functional moves were followed by some sultry ones thanks to a super fun 30-minute Zumba session with Jeimy Prisby. Oh, and the kicker to this amazing night? It was free!

This particular fitness experience is over, but it just shows how a little research can lead you to  new opportunities. Not only may you finally find the perfect workout for your goals, but you may also find a new source of motivation sweating it out with endorphin junkies of all fitness levels.  . For my fellow New Yorkers, click here to learn when you can get in on one of Dr. Metzl’s free Ironstrength workouts. If you’re looking to get your Zumba on, whatever city or state you live in, click here to find a class near you. This is also the perfect time to check for new group exercise classes at your gym, or look for free fitness activities at a local library or community center.

So, here’s to getting back in the game and to a brand new month filled with chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

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A Monday of Motivation & Gratitude

Bring on Fall!

Bring on Fall!

Well, the last Motivation Monday of the summer of 2014 has arrived!

As we get ready to start the fall season filled with new adventures, I’m thrilled to tell you about another first for LauraLovesFitness.

I met Gary Davis, the owner of HealthFitnessGenie.com via Twitter and was honored when he asked to interview me for his website. The site offers great information for people of all ages and fitness levels with articles ranging from how to hire a personal trainer to exercising proper etiquette in the gym.

Please click on the following link to read the interview where Gary and I discuss how fitness has remained the one constant that’s kept me grounded through the ups and downs of the biggest adventure known as life. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about me and perhaps get a shot of motivation to stay on track with your own goals as we head into a new season.

http://www.healthfitnessgenie.com/laura-deangelis-interview/

I close with a thank you to Gary and to all of you for checking out the interview. Feel free to share away on Facebook, Twitter and wherever else you’d like to spread the word about “team” LauraLovesFitness and HealthFitnessGenie.

Here’s to the fall of 2014 and all the chances we’ll have to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

 

‘Tis the Season…for lots of Sneezin’!

coldI hope wherever you spent the weekend you were lucky to enjoy some sunshine and warmer temperatures. Here in New York, it seemed everyone made the most of the glorious spring weather including yours truly. Of course, as I went for a long walk through the tree-lined, grassy suburban neighborhood where I grew up, it hit me – the pollen that is.

The last thing I want to do after the horrendous winter is complain about the arrival of allergy season. (However, the experts are predicting one of the worst spring and summer allergy seasons in a long time.) So as we New Yorkers welcome a 70-degree Motivation Monday, I’ll simply offer some advice for anyone who’s ready to move your fitness routine outside but wants to keep the sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing and potential wheezing to a minimum. Here are some of my springtime survival tips:

  • Timing is everything: Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 am and 10 am. Unfortunately, that’s when many people enjoy their get-the-day-started jog, bike ride or walk. If you can move the activity to a time that’s not so pollen-heavy, great. If not, hopefully some of the following tips will help.
  • Wear sunglasses: You can create at least a minimal barrier for your eyes by wearing sunglasses (or even goggles) if you plan to exercise outdoors for a long period of time. Using eye drops before you head outside can help, too.(Non-prescription Alaway eye drops helped me a lot last year and I recently added a new bottle to my medicine cabinet.)
  • Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for many years when I was a kid. They helped make my acute reactions less severe over time, but I still battle through hay fever season. Today there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can offer relief. (Important note: I do NOT like to take a lot of medicine, but I’d much rather take something for a few months than cut back on my workouts and start scratching my eyes out!) Talk to your doctor about what treatments might work best to alleviate your symptoms. To prevent the onset of those symptoms, it helps to take your medication one hour before your outdoor workout. If you get out of bed and head outdoors immediately, ask your doctor if you can take your medication before bed so it’s in your system when you head outside.
  • Clean up: At the end of an outdoor workout, your clothes are covered in a lot more than sweat. Get out of that pollen-covered workout gear, 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.

To wrap things up, the best advice I can offer is simple: listen to your body. If you’re trying to get your heart rate up outdoors but all you’re feeling is misery, be smart. Stop. Head indoors, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you turn to an air-conditioned group exercise class or pop in your favorite Zumba DVD in at home to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

We Could All Use More Motivation to….Rest!

iStock_000010338713SmallOn this Motivation Monday, I’m happy to report I feel physically stronger than I have in several weeks. Want to know my secret? I took a few days off.

Unfortunately, one of the rest days arrived as the result of a minor injury. Last Tuesday, I strained my left pectoral muscle from either not executing proper form during a push-up sprint or gripping the ballet bar and leaning back a bit too during a “waterski” sprint at Physique57.  By Wednesday night’s “UFX Burn” class at New York Sports Club, every amped-up inhalation during our high intensity cardio drill and each rep of standing reverse flies were pretty painful.  So after icing the area and popping a couple of ibuprofen before bed that night, I took Thursday off. I even stayed away from the elliptical because I knew using the arm handles would or gripping the side bars too tight would have put unnecessary stress on my tweaked muscle. By Friday afternoon’s Physique class, I felt 90% better.  After enjoying another gal-pal catch-up day on Saturday, I decided to extend my rest time to cover the entire weekend.  In the end, I tallied four workouts in a seven day period. While that’s less than my typical five to six, you know what? My body is much happier on this Monday morning thanks to the extra TLC.

If you’re prepping for a competition or if you’re a serious bodybuilder, I understand there’s a strict schedule to follow to make gains in a certain amount of time. However, if you’re on a new health and fitness kick or if  you’re like me and you’ve been attacking your workouts at 125% to get through a rough patch in your life, it’s not a bad idea to pause for a moment and remember rest is a crucial component to improving your well-being. Whether you’re a runner, strength-training class or Zumba addict, it’s actually the rest days that allow those amazing muscles in your body to recover and grow.

The bottom line is by not taking at least one rest day each week, you can put yourself at risk for overtraining.  When you overtrain, the body is more prone to injury and instead of enjoying the typical endorphin rush from a great workout, you could find yourself feeling more tired than usual.  Here’s a checklist of overtraining symptoms:

  • 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

Remember, taking a rest day doesn’t mean you’re being lazy. It only means you’re giving your body the strength it needs to get back in the game so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Bring on Spring!

A Quick Weekend Drive to Jones Beach Got Me Psyched for Spring!

A Quick Weekend Drive to Jones Beach Got Me Psyched for Spring!

I love to sleep. However, I didn’t mind losing an hour of snooze time this weekend thanks to Daylight Saving Time. Being able to hang on to the sunshine a little longer each day is definitely worth a few extra yawns.

I’m also ecstatic that there are only nine days left until the start of spring. Whatever’s been in the air this winter, I’m ready for it to move on out of here and bring on a new season filled with warmer temperatures and sunnier dispositions.

If you’re one of the many people who’ve been suffering from the “Winter Blues” now’s a great time to start shaking them off by thinking about some new moves to mix up your fitness routine. Remember, the extra hour of daylight nixes any excuse about hating to take that post-work walk in the dark. Come on people, use the light to boost your spirits and get moving!

Of course, if you’ve been hibernating all winter, remember to re-start your engines with care. Whether you’re taking on a serious fitness routine for the first time ever or if you’ve simply been on an extended, here are some reminders to help you safely spring into action:

  • Talk to your doctor. If you’ve never exercised before, you should make sure your heart is in good shape for a serious shake-up. If you’re already on heart medication or managing conditions like diabetes or asthma, it’s crucial to speak to your doctor about how to proceed with an exercise routine. Similarly, if you have any old injuries, it’s a good idea to make sure to gauge where you are in the healing process so you avoid activity that could set you back again.
  • Talk to a trainer. Even if I wasn’t a certified personal trainer, I’d suggest treating yourself to a session or two with someone who can assess any muscle imbalances, show you proper form and help you create a comprehensive exercise program that helps you reach your goals.
  • Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. Start slow. Seriously. If you’ve been sitting on your couch all winter, it’s probably not a good idea to jump into a 60-minute boot camp class. Don’t know exactly where to start? Stretching, core work and cardio are always a safe bet.
  • No Gym? No Problem! If you don’t like the gym, well this is YOUR time of year! Treat yourself to a new pair of running sneakers or cross trainers and start pounding the pavement in your neighborhood or find some trails at a nearby park or recreation area. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to start cycling? Time to pick up the tennis racquet?
  • Got Gym? Check Out What’s New!  I visited my parents over the weekend, and if I’d checked the updated schedule at the New York Sports Club near their house, I would have arrived 20 minutes earlier Saturday morning and made it to Zumba!  Along with normal group exercise classes, smaller training classes are more popular than ever and now’s the time some of those classes may move outdoors. I know I can’t wait to start hitting it hard in Central Park again on Saturday mornings for Roberto Murichi’s killer workouts!

So, if you’ve been searching for some motivation to get moving, take advantage of the longer days and make this your time to shine. No doubt a little extra solar power could be just the boost we all need to fuel our drive 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!

Happy 1st Workout Wednesday of 2013!

Oh Yeah - You Got This!Photo by Leslie Hassler

Oh Yeah – You Got This!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

Happy New Year, everyone! If you’re like a lot of people, you probably just wrapped up a holiday season filled with friends, family and yes, a lot of food. In between the cheer, there’s also a good chance you made up your list of  New Year’s resolutions and some kind of health and fitness goals rank in the top spots. So I couldn’t think of a better time for my first post of 2013 to appear in Cyberspace than the first Workout Wednesday of this new year!

While I love seeing so many new enthusiastic faces at the gym in January, I hate the fact that many of those newbies are long gone by March. So, I kick off 2013 with a few tips that I hope will help anyone who has decided THIS is the year they’re finally going to make those fitness resolutions stick long after Old Man Winter has made room for Spring.

  1. What’s Done is Done. Don’t waste your energy regretting the occasions you overdid it during the holidays. I have my own memories of indulging in a  one too many cocktails or homemade cookies. Today is a new day.
  2. Adjust the Attitude. Think of exercise as a “chore,” and you’ll be done with your new routine in no time. Instead, turn exercise into “Me Time.” No matter what kind of stress I’m dealing with at the office or at home, the time I spend working out is the one time my brain goes into neutral. Whether I can spend a quick 30-40 minutes or a luxurious 90 at the gym, the only “noise” filling my mind during those precious minutes is my favorite music. So, use exercise as a break from the ordinary, and before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to sweating out whatever ails you.
  3. Step Back for a Reality Check. Saying you’re going to exercise seven days a week is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for failure – especially if you haven’t worked out one day in the past several months. The first day you miss, you’ll be discouraged. That makes it too easy to say, “Well, I just blew the whole week, so forget it!” A better approach is to aim for a minimum of three days each week for the first month. As you start experiencing the endorphin-rush and other benefits from exercising, you’ll want to spend more than three days working out. Discouragement aside, everyone should take a  minimum of one day off  each week to let the body rest.
  4. Find the Right Fitness Fit. Santa left you the latest version of the “Insanity” DVD program under your tree. Meanwhile, all your exercise DVDs still have the plastic wrap on them and they’ve been hanging with the dust bunnies under your bed since last year. Why not return the new program and put the money toward a cool pair of sneakers and some moisture-wicking workout wear? Grab a friend – who you’ve also resolved to spending more time with! -and start those power walks or sign up for exercise classes together at your local gym or community center. Have no idea what to try? Splurge and hire a personal trainer to get you started on the right track.
  5. Avoid Extreme Food Restrictions. If you deny yourself something you truly enjoy for too long, it’s only a matter of time before you break down and go overboard. So, the chocolate bar you could have had last week turns into five chocolate bars, washed down with a chocolate shake and a side of cupcakes two months later.

I leave you with this reality: there will be “off” days. Even as a lifelong fitness enthusiast, there are times I simply don’t want to workout and all I want to eat is red wine and chocolate. It happens. Just don’t let one bad day throw you off course.  Just wipe away the crumbs, prep your gym bag and remember tomorrow is your next chance 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!

Give the Gift of Fitness!

iStock_000014614375SmallI thought I’d kick off the new work week with a double-dose of motivation. The idea is to keep fitness on your mind even when you’re trying to get motivated to cross those names off your holiday shopping list.

With 14 shopping days left until Christmas and possibly a few more Hanukkah get-togethers on your social calendar this week, here are some gift ideas for the fitness fanatics and wanna-be fitness lovers in your life.  Of course, if you’re still working on your own list for Santa, maybe one or two of these items could help you stick with your fitness routine in the New Year.

  • Personal Trackers: There are so many cool gizmos out there that track everything ranging from your heart rate and how many steps you take in that hip-hop group exercise class to how much sleep you really get each night. There are all kinds of brands and price tags, including items from Nike+Fuel to FitBit. This gift could be a boost for someone looking to get serious about fitness or take his or her goals to the next level.
  • Workout Wear. Never underestimate the power of a moisture-wicking pair of running shorts, shirt or yoga pants to help keep your cool during a workout. (My personal favorite is Under Armour.) Not sure of someone’s size? A gift card to a store like Target or Modell’s allows someone to find the style that works best for his or her routine. (For “high-end” workout wear, check out Lululemon and Athleta.)
  • Footwear. Wearing the right footwear when you workout is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from exercise-related injuries. Since my exercise routine involves a mix of cardio, weight training and group exercise classes, I can’t live without my cross-trainers. I get a new pair every six months and time it so that brings me one of them at Christmas.
  • Fun Gift for Guys: How bout a “Performance Sports Crate” that includes everything from push-up bars to energy drinks? This and other sports-minded guy gifts at ManCrates.com.
  • Fun Gift for Gals: Know a fitness chick who loves to break a sweat at home with the Wii? Check out the Wii 5-in-1 Lady Fitness Workout Kit.
  • Fun for the Whole Family: With so many active games to choose from, maybe this is the year you buy the Nintendo Wii, Playstation 2 or XBox. Zumba Fitness 2 is also out for the Wii just in time for the holidays. For Playstation 2 or Xbox lovers, there’s still plenty of good buzz going around about Dance, Dance Revolution. If you don’t want to go the electronic route, then how bout an “old fashioned” pair of ice skates, a jump rope or a basketball? With fun like this to choose from at home, there’s no excuse not to get up and get moving!
  • Accessories for All:  Yoga mats, ear buds, re-usable water bottles, snag-free hair ties.
  • Musical Motivation: I know I’d be lost without my music to keep me moving, so an iPod or mp3 player could be a great gift to keep someone going. iTunes gift cards also allow mp3 owners to download songs and create their own motivational mixes.

Check out Gifts.com for other ideas for the exercise lovers in your life. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, adding some of these new “toys” to your daily routine could be just the boost you need to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Mix-It-Up Monday

The leaves will soon change color, and it’s also the perfect time of year to make some changes to your fitness routine.

They say variety is the spice of life. That’s definitely true when it comes to making fitness a part of your daily routine. The trick is making sure your program doesn’t become too routine.

So on this Monday I offer another simple motivational tip to not only help you get moving, but make sure you stay in motion: be sure to mix things up! The beginning of a new season is the perfect time to look for some new activities to freshen up your workout routine.

Many health clubs change their group exercise schedule in the fall. If you’re a gym rat like me, be sure to check the latest schedule and see if there’s a new class that sparks your interest. Maybe you’ve always wanted to give Zumba a try or take out your stress on a heavy bag during a non-contact boxing class. Of course, just make sure the classes are convenient for your schedule. That way you’ll be sure to add it to your calendar for a set time each week. Before you know it, getting to that class will be as routine as brushing your teeth. If you’re more of a workout-on-your-own type, this could be the time to treat yourself to a personal training session or two and get some new exercise programs from a pro.

If you don’t like being confined by four walls and you’re wondering what to do now that your days walking along the beach are coming to an end, don’t sweat it! Mother Nature makes this a wonderful season to be outside for some great workouts. I’ve been writing about the Saturday morning CrossFit UWS class in Central Park that has added a serious punch to my exercise routine. Wherever you live, chances are there are outdoor “boot-camp”-style classes or maybe a soccer, kickball or dodgeball club that you can join. Check your local paper or just do an online search. These options offer the added benefit of being social. Join with a friend or two and turn the workout into an opportunity for a weekly or bi-weekly catch-up afterward. If you sign up solo, it’ll be hard not to make a few new friends while you’re getting your heart rate up and moving your muscles.

If you sign up for a club or make a commitment to get to a new class, why not reward yourself with a new piece of fall fitness gear. Even something as simple as having a new hoodie or pair of kicks to “show off” can motivate you to get out and get moving!

Whatever your fitness level, mixing things up is one of the best ways to kick boredom to the curb and stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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