Archive | June, 2014

What I Learned From the BET Awards

30 Jun

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Last night’s BET Awards were, as expected, full of talking points. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll list a few things that had me going throughout the broadcast

* Missy still looks and sounds great! There’s nothing like watching someone smile through a performance

* Chris Rock: forever funny. My favorite Chris Rock joke of all time can be switched up to apply to fitness: If you’re a gym rat, has to be a gym rat, too, or the shit don’t work.

* I’m an old so I’ve never heard of this August Alsina character, but he’s awfully emotional for a BET Award. Do you, boo.

(but for real, doe)

(but for real, doe)

* Keke Palmer has grown into a beautiful young woman…who is following Kendall Jenner down the path of trying to make pelvic bones sexy. Maybe it’s something else I don’t understand because I’m an old.

* Lil Wayne, despite his penchant for excessive drug use, has stayed in shape all these years. Now if only he could see a dentist about his gums.

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* A few more awards are handed out before we come back to Weezy again, this time with Breezy. These brothers in prison arms performed “Loyal,” an interesting choice for two men not known for being faithful to their women.

*Breezy’s time behind bars left him in a six by eight-foot space didn’t allow him much space to take advantage of the stage, so he gets a pass for his limited dance solo. Still, dancing is a great form of exercise.

breezy

* Yay, Travis Barker. Another guy who gets all kinds of props for recovering from tragedy and remaining healthy. Good for you, guy!

* I must admit that during Usher’s entire performance I worked up quite a sweat dancing around my living room. Usher took me back to eighth grade when he first started. It was fantastic!

usher

* Sometimes, it’s not always about looks. Like Pharrell looking like he’s just getting over a cold, walking around in a sweatshirt and Uggs. I don’t always look my best on sick days. But I’m not rich.

* While I’m not a big fan of Weight Watchers, I fully support Jennifer Hudson’s road to a healthier lifestyle. All that hard work paid off because that waist was snatched! Plus, that last song she sang would be great to skate to (another alternative form of exercise)

* Eva Marcille four months after giving birth: not universally realistic, but she still looked great.

* Just caught a glimpse of Busta Rhymes. Do you remember when he was tall and scrawny, then he hit the gym and was on swole? For a while it looked like he was on steroids, he’d gotten so big. That’s not the case anymore.

Now he's being compared to Cheesecake Factory bags.

Now he’s being compared to Cheesecake Factory bags.

* I’m not perfect. I’m not trying to fat shame Bussa Buss. Let’s just say that life happens.

* You gotta give it to Nicki: Her dancer is in a nude bodysuit and still put on boy shorts for a bit of modesty. Nicki Minaj just DGAF and walked around cheeks out. Do you, boo.

* A meeting of the not-quite Usher minds. At this point in the show, it became evident that the sound people weren’t really in it for the money, because I couldn’t hear August, Trey or Breezy over the background music.

* Was it me or were all the men in the ’70s just really thin? Those Commodores photos had me thinking they weren’t taking advantage of the Tuskeegee southern cooking.

* Cheers to Ledisi, who obvs lost some weight. She looks great and sounds the same. But now she looks like she has more energy during her performances. Good for her.

* All I wanted was for Lionel to sing “Zoom.” All I got was “All Night Long.” Blech!

What Lionel said when I asked for "Zoom."

What Lionel said when I asked for “Zoom.”

* I’m not a fan of T.I.’s new song, but the video did take me back to Rio—so A+.

* I like “Fancy.” Sue me.

* Poor Chadwick Boseman. All he wants to do is portray of Black History’s biggest pop culture figures. Instead, he has to fix the mic Weezy broke while embarrassing his teenage daughter on live television. Poor fella.

* Floyd Mayweather proves that reading is fundamental

* Once again, a the awards show dance break came from some blasts from my past: Troop, Color Me Badd and Silk. (Side note: that first Silk CD was the business. I have stories bout that album. It was defined an era for me.)

* Seeing Myrlie Evers-Williams and Phylicia Rashad just warmed my heart. They are still so graceful, so composed and so stunning. Whatever unicorn tears they’re dropping in their tea, I’d like a few hits of it.

* This…

nicki

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nicki3

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* And to cap it off, Jay and Bey perform via YouTube clip.

All in all, it was not a great show. It was very slow, despite Chris Rock’s efforts. Plus, producers kept making him stretch the show and it still went over.

Because I don’t watch BET all the time, I don’t see howthese people’s bodies are changing. Some were shocks while others were welcome surprises. Can’t wait to see what everyone looks like next year.

What did you think of the show? Who wore the best red plaid? Who wore the best hat?

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Every Little Step I Take

24 Jun
Who wouldn't want to go exploring on a day like this?

Who wouldn’t want to go exploring on a day like this?

For the past few weeks, I had been in beast mode. I’d been living off of salads, lean meats and beans. I’d been hitting the gym and the pavement extra hard to keep my body in motion.

And I was dog tired.

All I wanted to do is sleep when I was done. My dog had been getting the bare minimum of attention because I couldn’t keep up with him—and he’s 13. That’s 91 in dog years. So basically I was being punked in the energy department by a nonagenarian. Excuse me while I sweep up my ego.

I know I’ve got to keep moving and watching what I eat in order to maintain my health, but it’s difficult to maintain beast-mode levels of diet and exercise. So what’s a girl to do?

I got to stepping. The weather has been phenomenal in New York. We’ve had sunny skies with warm, breezy temps. It’s been perfect for lounging. But instead, I started walking.

Just keep stepping. Just keep stepping.

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I’ve discussed before on here how I love exploring New York and the benefits of living in a walking city. But when you need to stay active and just keep your body moving, nothing beats walking.

Walking has to be one of the most underrated forms of exercise. You’ve been doing it since you were a toddler. You know how it works. You generally have some idea of where you’re going. And it’s an easy group activity.

So why is it the red-headed stepchild of workout routines? Because of all the reasons I mentioned above, especially the part of how you’ve been doing it since you were a toddler. But that doesn’t make it any less valid.

People need to keep moving. We’re like sharks in that if we don’t move, we die. There are actually thousands upon thousands of articles on the web that tell of the benefits of walking, especially getting in the recommended 10,000 steps a day.

Ten thousand may seem extreme, but it can be accomplished pretty easily.

1. Get a pedometer. My hiatus from beast mode has made my pedometer my friend. You’d be surprised how many steps you actually take in a day. If you have a sedentary job like I do, you probably think you take maybe 3,000 steps a day. But what about walking into work? Walking to a co-worker’s desk or another department in your building? The jumping off point to see how many more steps you need to take a day. Who knows? You might be hitting the 10,000 mark on the regular and not even know it.

2. Go on a boo stroll. Summertime is great for cheap dates. And nothing’s cheaper than free. So grab your boo and pull a Jill Scott (take a long long  around the park after dark). You can get to know each other better and burn some calories in the process. It’s a win-win.

3. Walking lunch. Eating at your desk can be a bummer, but so is having to get a wider chair because your butt is expanding. So take that half-hour or so you would to go down to the cafeteria and walk a few blocks around your office. Grab a co-worker so you two can vent about your day. It’s a great mental health break from your job and a fantastic physical health benefit to your body.

4. Park further away/take longer route from the subway. Unless you’re hauling heavy equipment on the regular, there’s no need to park right in front of the office or at the grocery store. A few extra steps won’t kill you. If you’re like me and public transportation is your pal, walk a little further to the next subway stop. Instead of walking the five blocks to my nearest station, I sometimes will walk 10 minutes to a different one. It gives me a small sense of accomplishment.

5. Become a hometown tourist. There’s nothing like discovering something new about your own town. Get off at a stop you’ve never been to before. Drive to a different part of town and walk around. Look up what’s happening in a different area than you usually hang out and go there. See what else your city has to offer outside of your own zip code. You’ll be adding steps in no time.

Keeping it moving is essential keeping your metabolism going. Walking is a great way to do that. And it’s the first exercise you learned. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

How many steps do you think you take in a day?

Running vs. Racing

17 Jun
If this makes you nervous, I suggest you find a smaller race.

If this makes you nervous, I suggest you find a smaller race.

This year I participated in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, a series of races that take place around the country, including New York City. I forgot I’d signed up for it until I saw the reminder notice in my inbox. Crap! My knee has still been giving me a little trouble, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it. I talked my friend/co-worker Willa into doing it with me, mostly because I needed someone there who’d be able to identify the body if I fell over on the course.

When I began my weight-loss journey, running was the one exercise that I latched on to. I surprised myself with my enthusiasm for it because I’m a self-confessed couch potato. But it spoke to my other inclinations, like thriftiness, speed and convenience.

That’s running.

Racing is an entirely different animal. I won’t say I hate racing because I do enjoy the challenge. I will say that when deciding to race, you need to choose wisely.

Racing involves registration, registration fees, meeting up at a specific time (which is usually early in the morning) and, worst of all, running with a group of people like a pack of animals.

The Corporate Challenge is no different. Thousands of people from corporations across the city participate. The race was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. I didn’t get to the starting line until 7:40 on a humid June evening. I was not happy. While I was slowly making my way to the starting line, I thought of all the reasons I shouldn’t be doing it. Here are a few things you should consider before deciding to do a race.

1. Crowds suck. If you don’t like the feeling of being herded like cattle, don’t register for a big race. A race’s website should tell you how many participants are involved. The Corporate Challenge in New York was so large it was held over two nights to accommodate the 30,000 runners participating. You read that right: 30,000 over two balmy nights. In Central Park. For a 5K. There was a lot of funk going on.

2. Training can be a pain. If you’ve never done any type of race, you’re going to have to train and stretch. Racing is different from running in that the element of competition becomes a factor. I’m not a very competitive person. I don’t like to lose, but I’m indifferent about winning. However, there is a switch that’s flicked once you cross the starting line that pushes you to go a little faster and try a little harder than you would were you just out for your morning jaunt. That speed will test your endurance and stamina. If you haven’t trained, you’ll be puking along the way. And nobody wants to be that person.

3. Wishful thinkers are very slow. Everyone has ideas of what they look like and what they are able to do. Often these ideas don’t mesh with reality. Big races like the Corporate Challenge invite people from all fitness levels to participate. The desk jockey who ran a 4-minute mile in high school probably thinks he’s still got it. He’s also the jerk who registered for the fast heat and will probably get run over and cussed out by the pros.

4. Come rain or come shine. The week of the race, the weather had been really funky. It rained off and on a lot; it even rained the morning of the race. There was still a chance for more droplets to fall during the race. But the Corporate Challenge site said the event generally goes on despite weather concerns. Basically, forget your ‘do and your need to stay reasonably dry. If you can’t handle unpredictable weather, keep an eye on the forecast. Getting caught in the rain on a race is the pits.

The beast had taken over when the race was done. And I can't take a selfie when I'm out of breath, obvs.

The beast had taken over when the race was done. And I can’t take a selfie when I’m out of breath, obvs.

Every time I do a race, I have to talk myself into it. I have to convince myself that  it will be good to commune with people like myself who enjoy the fresh air and freedom that running allows us. Racing tests you in ways that running won’t because competition is a motivator. And in the end, you’ve completed a challenge. The goal of any race is to finish. Sure, you’ll finish after you’ve mowed down people who are moseying on by, but you’ve done it.

Do you plan on competing in any races this year? How do you cope with the crowds?

top photo credit: Derek K. Miller via photopin cc

I’m Only Good for Two

11 Jun
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I just…I don’t even know what to say about this.

While on your weight-loss journey, you learn the art of sacrifice. In order to drop the pounds, you have to drop the doughnut and pick up the cucumber salad. You have to give up live programming because your spin class starts at the same time as “Game of Thrones.”

Nothing’s ever really worth it if you didn’t have to make sacrifices for it. I say all this to justify why I’m such a slob. I hate cleaning. It was the thing I got in trouble for most as a kid. I remember my mother waking me at 2 in the morning to wash the dishes I’d neglected the night before. I just didn’t feel like it.

Things have gotten so bad that I’ve just had to leave my home to get some peace. I’ve gone for a 6-mile run in the morning, gone to work and come home to complete horror. I had to get out and go for a walk so I wouldn’t have to deal with the mess I’d created.

The irony is that despite my disgust for Lysol, I hate messes. I understand that I’m really lazy. This far into my weight-loss journey, I’ve learned what my essentials are for a peaceful existence: having my meals prepared, setting aside time for my workouts and keeping my place relatively neat.

The other thing I learned, however, is that I’m only good for two of those three. So when I’m in beast mode, my apartment suffers. My poor dog has given me side-eye for how bad things have gotten. But I’m tired. Working out takes a lot out of you. And then cooking? Ugh. It’s all too much, I say. If I’m going to be fully dedicated to my goal, something’s got to give. So I’m sorry floors, but you’re just not getting mopped until I’ve had a chance to rest.

How do you reconcile what you need to do versus what must be done? Obviously, I can’t live my life in filth. I’m a bum, I’m not crazy.

I need to clean? (fights the air)

I can justify the piled up laundry because I’ve been working so hard. The mountain of dishes in the sink are because I’ve been cooking more. When you cook, your dishes get dirty. That’s just facts. I’ve made peace with the fact that when the beast hits, dust bunnies will pile up. I just can’t entertain guests until after rest day.

No matter how far into beast mode I go, I know I have to take a rest day. The body needs time to recover, but that doesn’t mean become a bump on a log. Rest days have become essential to me maintaining my sanity and allowing me time to clean my bathroom and put dishes in the dishwasher. I can get other minor business done, like paying bills and even grocery shopping.

Making sacrifices are expected when you’re in the throes of reaching your goal. But don’t sacrifice your sanity. Maybe it’s not a messy place for you, but something else you need to maintain your peace. Find a way to make room in your new routine for the things that keep you sane. Your friends and family will thank you for it.

What have you had to sacrifice for your goals? How have you had to readjust your needs for that?

Ugh, Cramps!

9 Jun
The struggle is real

Even Lebron James knows: the struggle is real.

As much as I love sports, I am absolutely not an athlete. I am the quintessential couch coach. I can call all kinds of plays from the sidelines of my living room. That’s why I love the NBA Finals. After the Super Bowl, it’s my favorite sporting event of the year.

Like a lot of people, I was halfway paying attention to the first game of the NBA Finals last Thursday. It’s the first game; there will at least be four; it’s two tough teams guaranteed to play a close game; who needs that kind of stress? But at the end, I peeked up from my book to see “King” LeBron James limping then being carried off the court. “What the…?!?!” I said to myself. I hit rewind to find out it was 90 degrees on the court as the air conditioning had gone out in the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Texas, but for some reason it just remains hot there. Just…just nasty hot. And it’s June. In Texas. At the time LeBron needed to be carried off the court, the temperature was in the low 80s with about 70% humidity. In other words, it was damn hot—and that was outside.

I know I wasn’t the only one laughing at the mighty LeBron being carried off the court. But I also understood why.

When you exert yourself the way top athletes do, especially in this type of competition, your body temperature is going to rise. Couple that with the heat in the arena and the lactic acid that had built up in his body over four quarters and you’ve got man down due to cramps.

There’s no other way to say it: Lactic acid buildup is a bitch. When in beast mode, it will slay the beast. Ask any runner, basketball player, football player, fencer, etc. When you get into a groove, it can be easy to ignore the burn that is attacking your calves, hamstrings, triceps.

People who’ve never experienced that type of pain will be the first ones to call LeBron a punk for not continuing to play in such a tight game. Those people are idiots. I laughed because it’s funny watching LeBron getting carried off the court, not because he couldn’t finish the game. As a woman, I’ve had debilitating menstrual cramps. And while it hurts to walk, you can still move. You can’t do that with a Charlie horse. Charlie horse is a cute name, but is not acute pain.

Here are a few tips to help you get through beast mode without falling on your face:

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. It can never emphasized enough: You have to hydrate. Gatorade, VitaminWater, or just good-old H20 will all do a body good. The water acts to counter the lactic acid building up in your system. This keeps your muscles from tightening and preventing Charlie horses. (See: LeBron)

Stretch. The other day I ran in a 5K (post to come). Afterward, I had to go to work to pick up my stuff and my running mate tsk-tsked me because I hadn’t stretched yet. I admit that stretching is annoying. If you’re like me, you just want to get your workout over with and go about your day. That becomes difficult when you can’t move. So take those extra five minutes before and after to loosen up your limbs. Your body will thank you. And drink some water.

Don’t feel the burn. This isn’t the ’80s when people were still trying to figure out how to exercise. Everyone these days is a self-proclaimed expert (including yours truly). The one thing they agree on is pain is not the point. So if your thigh or arms or back starts tingling in an unfortunate way, stop. Just stop it. Move on to something else. Learn the difference between the feeling of your muscles working and your muscles hurting. And drink some water.

Frequency is key. Though you need to stop when the burn hits, increasing the frequency of your workouts helps. The fitter you are, the less lactic acid that will build up. If you’re a once a month exerciser, do you, boo. But you’ll have to compensate that with extra time spent on stretching, eating bananas and hydrating. Please drink some water.

“Bananas taste the best and are the best for you.” Aside from that, the potassium helps prevent the buildup of lactic acid. But I’ll let my girl Chiquita Banana give you the other benefits of bananas. And drink some water.

 

What do you find that helps you with your workout pains? I hope one thing you do is drink water.