Archive | July, 2014

My Food, My Choice

31 Jul

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One of the things you’ll notice on your weight-loss journey is the way people nitpick at your own food. After you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, friends and family will pay more attention to your diet.

Once upon a time, you’d eat half a pizza and a dozen wings by yourself. Now you’re fine with a slice or two and some water. You used to be the one who’d order the giant steak with a side of butter and dab of potato. Now a shrimp salad and dressing on the side suits you just fine.

Your diet has changed; good for you. One if the hard parts now is getting the rest of your peeps to accept that when you decided to go on your weight-loss journey, you made a life decision. You changed the way you live your life, and that’s difficult for others to accept.

You may have heard: “You’re eating half your dinner? I could never do that. That must be why you’re so skinny.” Or even: “You’re making me feel bad. I’m ordering the lasagna while you’re just getting the salad.”

The thing is your food choices are yours alone. You’re not eating to make others feel bad. If your dinner companion is hungry for a pound and a half of steak, then that person has every right to eat it, just as your salad with a side of sweet potato fries are your digestive right.

People who try to make you feel guilty for not eating the way you used to are only projecting their own issues with food and weight-loss onto you. Don’t let them get into your head and make you regret all the good work you’re doing.

I’ve been told several times that the way I eat isn’t  for another person. That may be true, but actually I eat what I want. I just don’t have a strong desire for bad things anymore. 

That all goes back to the concept of perception versus reality. The memory of how you used to be doesn’t quite jibe with what your friends and family see before them. It’s a hard concept for some people to grasp. To many, being mindful of your health means giving up everything. Not only is that untrue, it’s bad press.

When I began my weight-loss journey, it was like being in training. When you’re training, you cut out some things altogether. When you’re maintaining, you can add a few indulgences back into your diet. You’re just more mindful of what you’re eating. I can mentally estimate how many calories I’m consuming versus the amount of exercise I’ve done to burn them. But that took years of practice.

If that’s not for you, try a food journal. If you know what you’re putting into your body, you’ll know how much work you need to do to maintain or work off the pounds.

So enjoy your small plates of food. And remember, no one else is fueling your body but you.

How have you changed the way you eat? Have those close to you been positive about it?

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A Taste of Home

28 Jul
Home of many tasty things.

Home of many tasty things.

Right now I’m in the middle of what I’m calling a three-city tour. It started with Chicago and hanging out with the Carters and a few of my Chi-town friends. Now I’m back in my hometown of St. Louis (STL, dog!) to visit friends and family before going to Boston for a conference.

Going on vacation means taking a break from your routine. My routine is work-gym-home. Sometimes it’s run-work-grocery store-home. It keeps me focused on maintaining my fitness level and not getting too distracted in a city full of distractions. Vacation throws all of that out of the window.

When I go to Chicago, I always get Garett Popcorn. I prefer the mix of caramel and cheddar popcorn, but others just like plain butter. Doesn’t matter because is good old corn sullied by sodium and corn syrup. And it’s delicious. An entire bag is probably my daily allotment of calories, but when I have it, I’m in heaven.

Next comes home. Let me explain to you a few things about St. Louis food: my dad makes the best smoked barbecue ever, you’ve never had good Chinese food until you’ve had it at ahometown hole in the wall, the best White Castle on the planet is smack dab in the middle of the hood, and no one makes a thin-crust pizza like Imo’s.

None of this is good for me: we coat our barbecue in sauce in St. Louis, filling ourselves with overprocessed tomato sauce; the Chinese food is full of MSG and sodium; and the White Castle is…White Castle.

I hadn’t been home in almost a year, so I have to get my fill of the good stuff while I’m here. But I’m going to have to work even harder to maintain some modicum of restraint around my hometown comfort foods.

I learned this lesson in Rio. We were eating all the wrong things and laying out on the beach everyday. One day we were out for lunch and found a spot with a salad bar. We thought we were in heaven. Leafy greens, tomatoes, beets, carrots, balsamic vinegar. It was like an angel chorus was singing to us as we filled our plates.

That’s what’s probably going to happen as I begin the third leg of my tour in Boston. I’ll have to cleanse myself with steamed vegetables, baked fish and snackable cashews. But in the meantime, I’ll have my running shoes with me. A lot of my folks back home have started working out again. I’ll be surrounded by people who are taking active care of their health, so I won’t be led too far astray.

Ten years ago, not many of us were taking good care of ourselves. Sure, there were a few who’d maintained their high-school athleticism. But a lot of us let our slovenly ways take over. I’m glad that I’ve stayed in contact with such hard-working people who want to do better for themselves.

If you live away from your hometown, what’s your go-to comfort food? How do you reconcile your desire for a taste of home with your need to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

The Magic of Bey (and Jay)

24 Jul

Their love is real. You'll never convince me otherwise.

Their love is real. You’ll never convince me otherwise.


Tonight, I’m going On the Run. I’m going twist my left hand back and forth. I’m going to uh-oh like there’s no tomorrow. And maybe I’ll see a few people rock a little Tom Ford (I’m not because I’m poor).

Yes, I’m going to the see Jay and Bey at Soldier Field in Chicago. I’ve seen them both separately, but this is the first time I and any of my friends will see them together. It’s going to be epic (an overused term, I know, but there’s no other way to describe it.

I wrote this post ahead of time, but I can already guarantee two things by the time this goes up: I’ve had maybe three hours of sleep and I’m going to be #Flawless tonight.

Why #Flawless? Because I’ve been preparing for Beyonce concerts for years. Example: A few years ago at an engagement party I wowed my friends with my knowledge of the “Get Me Bodied” moves. Yes, I can Naomi Campbell walk and snap for the kids. This same friend wanted to do a dance routine at her wedding reception. What song was on heavy rotation at the time? None other than “Single Ladies.” With only a day to rehearse, I’ve go to tell you we were pretty good.

I’ve been using music videos as mini workout programs for years. From Janet’s “Rhythm Nation” to Aaliyah’s “Are That Somebody” to Ciara’s “Body Party,” I’ve always tried to mimic the moves I saw on screen.

To me, dancing is an elite art form. I respect the training that goes into it. There is so much dedication involved with learning to position yourself just right in order to express music physically. Ballet, tap, jazz, even the dougie, it’s all about giving music form.

One of the things I learned on my weight-loss journey as it coincided with getting older is that when I was dancing, I was really working out. I haven’t been thin since puberty hit over 20 years ago. When I was dancing, though, my stomach was flatter, my thighs didn’t jiggle as much and stairs didn’t seem like such a problem.

I stopped dancing regularly after my junior year of college when graduating became more of a priority. It’s the one thing I wished I’d made more time for because it was so much fun.

And that takes us to Beyonce. I mean, we all saw this at the Super Bowl, right?

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So tonight, I’m gonna party with the Rock Boys and let my Ego run free. I’ve seen some of the clips on Instagram, so I know the show’s gonna be amazeballs. But these are the songs I’ve been practicing in anticipation of tonight’s shenanigans. And these are the songs that must be played, lest the Carters feel my wrath (if they even care).

Single Ladies

Love on Top (because this is what joy looks like)

Baby Boy

Drunk in Love

Partition (because when I grow up, I want to dance like this girl)

Have you seen the show yet? What was your favorite part? Were you like me and danced like nobody was watching?

top photo courtesy of AP Images

One Time for the Little People

21 Jul

Meet Kacy Cantanzaro.

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She’s my new hero. Kacy is an athlete like you’ve never seen. She’s 5’0″, barely 100 pounds and she is a mother-effing beast. Kacy competed on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” and wrecked shop. On four different obstacle courses, she barely stumbled. She faced each task at her own pace and killed shit.

In a conversation with pop-culture site Vulture.com, Kacy says “I … wanted to make these big steps for everyone, for all the women out there and for everybody else that thinks that they can’t do something or that they have an excuse.”

She has. Kacy is a little dynamo. She’s a NCAA Division 1 gymnast, so she was already used to heavy competition. She just wanted to challenge herself a bit more.

And that’s what we can all learn from her. This is the second time she’s competed on the show. The first time didn’t go as well as she’d liked, so she tried again. She continued to train to meet her goal. Nowhere in the interview does she say she wanted to just make it to this round. Kacy is a competitor. Her boyfriend/trainer even acknowledges this in while she’s on the course. An “American Ninja Warrior” participant himself, he calls her “the best competitor I’ve ever met.”

Not the best female competitor, but the best competitor. Kacy accomplished something no other woman has done on the show. And she’s not even done yet. The fact that she’s a woman was brought up several times by the hosts. I tried not to let that bother me so much. The fact that she’s small seemed to be a disadvantage, at least to the hosts. But watching the video, it seemed like a benefit. Kacy is small and light. Sure, running up the vertical would require great thigh strength, but she’s a gymnast so that’s taken care of. That thing with the poles would seem difficult if you had to stretch, but she’s light so she can leap.

Kacy took what would seem like disadvantages and used them to her advantage. She even had a great response for the Vulture interviewer who brought up her height as a disadvantage.  “Obviously, I’ve been on the shorter side my whole life, so I just know that sometimes I need to make adjustments and find my own way to do it,”

Obviously.

You don’t have to be in any major competition to feel the need to prove something to yourself. If you are still on your weight-loss journey or even if you’re trying to maintain, you are still in competition, only with yourself. Your are trying to meet your goals and you will hit some roadblocks. They may not be the quad steps (the first part of the obstacle course). Your goals could be breaking a 10-minute mile, running up a set of steps, pressing 100 pounds or even getting into a headstand at yoga.

It doesn’t matter what your goals are. It matters what you’re willing to do to achieve them. Kacy was willing to go on a strict diet and train for two years straight to prove to herself and inspire others that women could compete at the top levels on this insane show.

I’d never watched the show before I saw the clip. Now that Kacy is moving forward, I really want to see what else she can do.

What are you willing to do to get to the next level for you health, your fitness or even your training?

Kacy competed in the Dallas quarterfinals. Tonight’s episode goes to my hometown of St. Louis. I’ll be watching on NBC.

photo courtesy of NBC

Just Cycling Through

16 Jul
Repeats to self: I don't need this. I don't need this.

Repeats to self: I don’t need this. I don’t need this.

I’m going on vacation soon. Just like with any other vacation prep, I want to keep my workout routine consistent—if not amped up a smidge—before I go because I enjoy vacation brain.

However, this prep session has hit a bit of a snag and that’s because it’s about that time. The time when I ache from my navel to my knees. The time when someone calling my name more than twice a day will set me off. The time when all I crave is a brownie sundae.

Every woman goes through this rite of passage that will make her want to tear out her uterus. I cannot stand it. For at least a week (yes, sometimes it lasts longer), I become even more irritable than normal. I’m an asshole on a good day. On my cycle, steer clear.

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One of worst things about this monthly tradition is the amount of food of which I can’t seem to get enough. I don’t even know it’s happening until I’m midway though the early stages. I do know that Haagen Dazs vanilla milk chocolate almond bars are everything heaven should be.

In the back of my mind I know this feeling is just temporary and when I’m back to normal I’ll regret that Five Guys burger. But in the moment I’m all

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So how can you stay on track when Mother Nature is being…herself?

1. Snacking is key. Dairy is no good for your cramps, no matter how good two-fer Tuesday is at Baskin Robbins. So instead of indulging the things that will set you back, keep some sweet snacks at the ready. It’s summertime, so grapes and cherries are ripe for the picking. A tip for grapes: freeze those suckers. You’ll thank me later.

2. Take your aggression out at the gym. I know you’re irritable. I’m sure your co-worker did side-eye you when you asked her for a pen (I told you that chick’s crazy). But instead of snapping off on her—and endangering your livelihood—make  good use of that anger on the treadmill. The endorphins you build up and will calm you down. Plus it helps with cramps, and nobody wants those.

3. Think logistics. This comes as no surprise to any woman, but sanitary equipment is not the most stable. When you’re exercising, things move…a lot. When you’re in beast mode, I guarantee you things have shifted exponentially. Take caution and have backup equipment (and underwear) at the ready.

4. It’s only temporary. When you’re in it, this time seems like it lasts forever. That’s the crazy part of your brain talking to you. Tell her to shut the hell up because it’s almost over. Take comfort in the fact it will soon be over and your hormones won’t make you cry at baby elephants (not that I know anything about that).

5. It’s better than the alternative (for some). Hey, at least it came. If it didn’t you’d be reading a different blog right now. There, aren’t you happy?

6. No excuses. Remember: Excuses are what people use to justify the reasons why not. For most of my readers, they’ve been going through this for a while. Saying, “I just started my cycle,” is a rookie move. Athletes like Venus and Serena Williams, or even the entire women’s U.S. soccer team, can’t just clock out because it’s that time of the month. You’re still going to work, aren’t you? Then can still make time for your health.

I’m no hypocrite. I have to remember these tips myself every month. And as I ready myself for vacation, despite the ache in my thighs, I know the time spent on the treadmill was much better for me than throwing my stapler across the office.

How do you maintain your fitness lifestyle when Mother Nature has decided to make you her enemy?