I Did It: Your Own Way Race

29 Sep
It was like the decline of man.

It was like the decline of man.

“I Did It” is a feature on I’m Skinny, Now What? where I will tackle a new workout or diet and give you my opinion. Wish me luck, because I don’t like changing my routine.

I subscribe to the Well+Good email newsletters. It’s a great site that gives me tips on what new fitness studios are opening up, what’s in my favorite celebs fridge, etc. Last week, one of the newsletters pointed to a race happening the upcoming Saturday. It’s called Race the City (Your Own Way). Runners, roller bladers, cyclists, even drivers can participate.

It’s set up like a scavenger hunt. Instead of picking up clues at each location, you’re snapping selfies and posting them on Twitter or Instagram with a hashtag so the organizers can follow you. Nine locations were designated between 110th Street and Lower Manhattan. Participants didn’t find out the locations until race day. For those of you unfamiliar with New York, trust that it’s a pretty big distance, especially by foot.

So, race day comes and I get my map. It looked a little something like this.

Double-you Tee Eff!

What did I just get myself into? Still, I told myself I’d give it a shot, and it would make an interesting blog post. (I don’t just do this for me, I do it for you, too!)

At 8 a.m., the race started. My strategy was to head west to the Intrepid, go north, loop around and come back to Paragon Sports, which was the start and finish line. The beginning was fine because I was back in my element on the West Side. Getting to Strawberry Fields in Central Park wasn’t too bad, either. Traversing Central Park was a little tricky because the Global Citizen Festival would be held there that night, so barricades were everywhere.

Running to the the East Side was where things started going downhill. I’m a West Side girl. The East Side is foreign territory. That’s when Google Maps became my friend. I got to Gracie Mansion and thought, “This could be the end.” The city was starting to wake up, I’d been running for 2 hours and was in desperate need of hydration.

I’ve never run longer than an hour and a half. From that point on, it was a trudge to the finish. All along, I questioned my sanity. It was getting hotter. Every 17-ounce bottle of water seemed to disappear with the quickness. Every hill looked like a monster; every bus looked like an angel.

“Just hop on the bus, no one will know,” my subconscious whispered to me. But I’m no cheater, so onward I trudged.

After South Ferry, things got a little easier. I couldn’t run anymore because my knee was not prepared for the day’s mileage. But, walking from South Ferry to City Hall to the Arch and back to the store went by faster than anything else. Five and a half hours later, I was done. Yay?

What I learned

1. Bottles of water are much more expensive on the Upper East Side. I paid almost $2 for a 17-ounce bottle. It costs 75 cents at the bodega on the corner from me.
2. I have got to work on my hills. I’ve been running for a while, but I have been lax in doing hills. This race showed me I’ve got work to do.
3. Because I’ve been running for so long, certain injuries shouldn’t surprise me. No one warned me about the damage a sports bra can do. Ow!!
4. Last but not least: Read instructions carefully. And when you’re still confused, ask questions. I have a problem in that I’m kind of a know-it-all. If instructions seem simple enough, I’ll figure out the hard stuff. I didn’t understand how there was only one prize for all participants, especially if cyclists and roller bladers were in the same pool as the foot racers. Turns out you’re supposed to take “Your Own Way” literally. I could have taken the subway or the bus to all over the city. I could have even hailed a cab. Son of a …!

I ran/walked about 20 miles in five-and-a-half hours! I wasn’t so much angry when I found that out as I was upset that I didn’t know the rules. Plus, I was exhausted and in desperate need of an ice bath. So I just took my smelly behind, my $25 gift card and my new cup home.

Verdict

I’d do it again, because I got to see parts of the city I’d never seen before. But if I decide to participate next year, I’m riding a bike because this year’s winner was a cyclist.

Rest and Relaxation Time

23 Sep
How you feel on rest day

How you feel on rest day

Beast mode is no joke. I’ve been in beast mode for three weeks (and lost eight pounds in the process—yay!). I let things get out of hand over the winter, spent the spring enjoying the anniversary of my birth and the summer—well, I don’t have any excuse for the summer.

However, I’m making up for it now. I have sweat more in the past few weeks than I have in ages. I’m working out five to six days a week for about an hour a day. And on the seventh day, I’m resting.

I’ve gotten to the point now where I look forward to my rest days more than anything else. Rest days are just as important as workout days. They are the days your body recovers from the punishment you are putting it through. Think of it this way: you don’t work seven days a week, do you? If you do, we have other things to discuss.

One of the benefits of rest days is you are being proactive in preventing injury. I’ve discussed before how I strained my IT band by running so much. Before my injury, I was running maybe five days a week. I’ve now cut down to two to three. I spread out the days between runs to give my knee the chance to recuperate, but I’ve still got a couple of other days I need to get my sweat on. So I use those days to challenge myself with a different form of exercise, be it spin class or even the elliptical machine. Over the past few weeks, my knee hasn’t hurt me once. I credit that to rest days.

When I take a rest day, I do nothing. Last week, I took my first break in six days. Because I had been working out so much, I had completely neglected my apartment, as I am wont to do. I had plans to use my day off sweeping, mopping, putting up clothes, buying groceries, spending time with my dog, etc. The only thing I did was spend time with my dog—and we slept and binge-watched Netflix.

Rest days remind to you to stop and smell the roses. You’ve done good things; you should take time to appreciate them. You’re not as winded when you take the stairs. That reheated black bean and rice recipe you tried tastes pretty good. And better yet, you don’t have to work out today. For 24 hours you can exist in chill mode with no worries. Doesn’t that sound nice?

I’m not just touting this because I’m a self-confessed bum who’d rather clear out her DVR. The American College of Sports Medicine agrees with me.

Rest is a critical component to any good workout routine and time spent allowing the body to recover is a great way to prevent injuries. A rest day must occur at least one to two times per week. Even small breaks during a workout are sometimes required to get the most out of the workout and prevent injuries.

You’ll do more good than harm to put the weights down for one day and rest. Go ahead, take a nap. Go to a movie. See the friends you’ve been neglecting while you tackle the beast. That’ll do you some good to.

What do you like to do on your rest days? What do you enjoy most about them?

gif courtesy of Tumblr

‘Obesity Is a Tricky Thing’

18 Sep

rosieWe like to have fun here at I’m Skinny, Now What? Talking about boobs and butts and bikini shopping is all part of the journey.

But what we can never forget is that for many people, weight-loss is a health issue. There are men and women out in the world right now who, if they don’t get on the path to weight loss, it will mean the end of their lives.

Rosie O’Donnell came back as a host of “The View” this week. What no one expected was the drastic weight loss. For nearly 20 years, the 5’6″ actress-comedienne held more than 200 pounds on her frame. We’d gotten so used to seeing her that way, I don’t think it crossed any of our minds that she could look any different. It certainly didn’t occur to her—until she had a heart attack.

The block in her artery could have killed her. It should have, according to her doctor. Weight loss would be the only way to prevent another scary instance. But losing weight the way I and many others have didn’t work for her.

I preach a lot about diet and exercise here. I am a firm believer in its benefits. But when you’ve become so comfortable in your weight, it’s extremely difficult to break bad habits. It took me months to get my mind around the task I was about to take on. And then it took another few months to start the journey. For Rosie, she tried weight loss the old fashioned way for nearly a year without good results. So she decided to take the surgical route.

I am not a doctor, and I don’t know Rosie. But I know desperation. A year in, and I probably would have thrown in the towel, but she took the next step and took charge of her health. In an interview with “Extra,” she says that since the surgery a little over a year ago she’s lost about 55 pounds.

A few things Rosie said in her interview touched on some things that I hope gets across to everyone on their journey.

“I haven’t gained since I started losing. Sometimes it’s only a half a pound in the whole month, but that’s okay ’cause it’s going down.”

And it is okay. It’s okay to take control of your health in a way that works for you. For some of us, it’s strictly dieting. For others, it’s hitting the weights. Those of us, myself included, trying to lose a pound or two for beach season may never understand the what the severely obese have to go through. We can offer support and encouragement, but the journey is their’s to walk alone.

“I’m so not used to the new body that it’s hard for me to even buy the right-sized clothes when I go to the store.”

When I got got in beast mode with my weight-loss journey, I had tunnel vision. I knew how much I wanted to lose and what parts of my body I wanted to work on. I knew what kinds of foods I wanted to limit or restrict from my diet. What I didn’t know was how to dress myself. If you’ve been a certain size for a long time, you get used to shopping a certain way. Rosie was buying extra larges when she needed mediums. It wasn’t until a friend took me shopping that I realized my 12s were too big and I needed 8s. Weight loss is as much physical as it is mental. It takes a jolt of reality wrap your mind around your progress.

“There are reasons people become big. It’s protection. It’s layers of protection.”

You may have heard this before, but life is hard. There are people with metabolic issues who can’t lose weight. There are people with depression issues who eat to hide or comfort their feelings. There are more reasons for people to gain weight and have it stick than there are people in the world. But when you reach the point where you realize what you’re doing is not good for you, you’ve taken a major step toward an active role in your health. When you realize that the protective layer you’re hiding under isn’t doing you any good, then you’re on the road to a better you.

photo courtesy of Rosie.com

Fear as the Great Motivator

15 Sep

blairwitch

When talking to people over the years about how I began my weight-loss journey, I often describe my laziness. I’m a self-confessed, couch-potato bum. I wasn’t an active child. I come from a house full of readers. We may not know how to play sports, but we can navigate a library with ease.

But I got older, my ass got wider and every flight of steps began to look like Mount Everest. I knew I needed to make a change, but I’d never done anything like this before. Of course I hadn’t. That’s how I got into my situation in the first place. Besides dancing for a few years, physical activity was a foreign concept to me. And things that are foreign can be scary.

Fear is one of the biggest obstacles you will have to overcome as you embark on your weight-loss journey. It can be so powerful that it’s debilitating. You know how to walk, obviously, but you haven’t run since recess in elementary school. The last time you rode a bike it was a Huffy 10-speed. You haven’t taken a class since college almost 15 years ago. Doing these things will muck up your routine, and they’re all unfamiliar to you and the body you’ve developed.

Have you ever been so scared to something that you did it anyway just to relieve the anxiety of fear?

That was how I decided to just go for it. You’ll hear lots of disclaimers about not participating in any strenuous physical activity without your doctor’s consent. I’m a big believer in that, too. But after you’ve gotten the doc’s OK, the only thing holding you back is you and your fears.

So what are you really afraid of? That you’ll run out of breath? That you’ll hurt yourself? That you’ll make a fool of yourself? Let me help you out: you will do all those things and more.

If you’re brand new to the whole exercise thing, you will definitely get short of breath a lot faster than some of the other people around you. And you will deal with it. Never, ever push yourself to the point where you absolutely cannot breathe. But don’t shortchange yourself to the point where you’re not really working yourself. Always remember: oxygen is good.

A little pain got you scared? Again, you will deal. Your body is going to fight you so hard on the “damage” you’re about to do to it. You will ache in places you didn’t know could ache. I knew my hamstrings would get tight, but I never thought my butt muscles would betray me. That’s when I became good pals with my friend Epsom Salt. A quarter-to-half cup of that in a hot bath will ease a lot of your aches and pains. Or, if you’ve worked your legs overtime, an ice bath is the trick for you. Just think bath.

Humiliation is a fear we can all relate to. Who hasn’t tripped and fallen in front of others? Who among us hasn’t seen that one guy at the club looking like he’s having a seizure when he’s supposed to be doing the Dougie? It’s embarrassing to be the new person. But you won’t always be new. You will get the hang of things, you just have to keep trying. The person killing it in front of your Boot Camp class wasn’t always the star pupil. They tripped over their aerobics stepper just like you did. The fastest swimmer at your pool once had to doggy paddle to do laps. And then they got better, as will you.

Don’t let your fears keep you from doing what’s important to you. Use them as motivators to keep you moving on the right track.

What scares you most about working out? What steps can you take to overcome them and even use them to your advantage?

photo courtesy of Tumblr

Where There’s a Will…

10 Sep

medium_10911602524Misty Copeland is amazing. Have you seen her? Have you heard of her? She is a soloist for the American Ballet Theater.

I’m not sure how much you know about ballet. My own knowledge is slim. My history as a dancer is limited to one year in preschool, three years in high school and one year in college. But what I do know: ballet is a very difficult art form. As a dancer, you have to be highly attuned to every muscle in your body. You must have immense strength of both body and mind in order to precisely execute sublimely graceful movements. This takes years of training. Some of the best ballet dancers have been working at it since they were toddlers. Misty didn’t start receiving formal ballet training until she was 13.

Lots of naysayers gave her plenty of reasons why she shouldn’t pursue this dream: her age, her feet, her lack of training, her body. But she had the desire to keep moving and is now one of the most famous ballerina’s in the country.

Under Armour took note of this and decided to feature her in its new ad campaign: “I Will What I Want.”

I’m not big on brand loyalty. You find what you like, whether it’s a a well-known name or something in a bargain bin. But Under Armour may get a new customer out of me. Unlike some other fitness apparel brands, Under Armour is celebrating women who are passionate in their drive to achieve a goal. You have skiers, soccer players, tennis players and the like in these ads telling us how they kept after their goals, what it took for them to achieve them and why it was so important.

One of the campaign’s newest ads features Gisele Bundchen. Yes, Gisele of the idyllic life with a superstar-athlete husband, Victoria’s Secret contracts and amazing legs. But Gisele’s also had two children. Whatever you may think about celebrities, know that they are still human and pregnancy does…stuff to the body. Gisele’s showcases her strength in a place you wouldn’t think would naturally assume is her element: a boxing gym.

We’ve all heard white noise about the things we can and can’t do. The second you tell a few friends you’re going to start monitoring your diet, one of them will find a way to tell you all the ways you’ll fail. The day you step into the gym or the pool for the first time, someone will look at you like an alien. God forbid we don’t all start off with the perfect shape or the perfect dietary plan. Your weight-loss journey takes work. But more than that, it takes will.

Under Armour was brilliant in executing this campaign. They are showing how to, for lack of a better phrase, make your haters your motivators. You can do whatever you set your mind to, health-wise, career-wise, love-wise, whatever. It’s all about what you plan to do to achieve your goals. So muffle the white noise and get cracking.

What do you think of the ads? How do you get past the white noise of naysayers?

photo credit: notmydayjobphotography via photopin cc

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