Archive | July, 2014

Dating on the Run

14 Jul

My weight-loss journey began out of a need to make productive use of my time after a break up. I didn’t want to become the cliche of the girl who gorged herself on brownie sundaes to dull the pain of a failed relationship. While a brownie sundae sounds good even now, practicality is my thing.

When you’re in beast mode, time management is key to life. You have to work a workout into your schedule. You have to plan times for your meals. You need to have a steady sleep schedule to recover from the changes you’re making to your body. Add the daily activities of your actual job and extracurriculars and you realize that your social life can take a nosedive.

If you’re single like I am, dating can be difficult at the best of times even when you’re not on a fitness track. You want to meet up with that guy from OkCupid for after-work drinks, but your workout schedule already has you penned in for an hour at the gym. The guy from a couple weeks ago texts you for a movie in the park—he brings the treats, you bring the wine. But if he’s bringing treats, will he remember to bring you peppers and hummus because you’re not eating pita chips right now?

It can be all so nerve wracking. You don’t want your social schedule to ruin your good works, but you don’t want your good works to keep you from enjoying life. So how do you compromise the two in hopes of meeting the bae of your dreams?

1. Prioritize. You have to know what’s important to you. Understand where you are on your journey and what you’re willing to do to achieve your goals.

2. Let your freak flag fly. You know what you have to do to maintain or achieve your goals. Letting future bae in on where you are in your journey can only help. If he wants to grab snacks for a picnic in the park, give him suggestions. If you’re in training for a race, ask him if he wants to go with you for a run. You had a life before you met him, now just let him in on some of the things you like.

3. Cheating isn’t always bad. Say you have a rest day coming up where you’re allowed a few more cookies and a little extra syrup on your waffles. Sounds like the perfect day for a date. You’re not worried about how this slight divergence from the plan is going to affect you because you’ve already planned for a few extra calories on your plate.

 4. Lackadaisical can kick rocks. Sometimes you’ll meet a great guy where you two will hit it off. You’re both bottomless pits of useless information. He likes the same obcure BBC show that you like. But he’s a bit of a couch potato. That’s as big a deal as his need  to question your routine. If he pooh-poohs your goals and plans, he’s not worth it. Don’t settle for someone who can’t support your fitness regimen.

5. Just have fun. Dating is supposed to be fun. You’re meeting new people, learning about other interests and exploring new things. Don’t take it so seriously. Your next date may not be your husband, but he might be the guy to introduce you to a really great trainer. Or he could be the person that takes you to your new favorite restaurant, even if he wasn’t the best dinner partner.

You’ve made room in your life for fitness, now you’ve got to squeeze in more room for a social life. It’s a lot to take on, but you can do it. Look at all the progress you made just to shed a few pounds. Think of all the good you’ll do on the social scene.

How do you balance your dating life with your fitness life? What are some of the things you like to do to incorporate both?

On Prince Fielder’s Body Issue Cover

9 Jul

prince_fielderAbout a year ago, I went to an event called Drink and Draw. For 10 bucks, you have all you can drink beer and you draw a nude model. I tend to doodle occasionally, so I thought what the hell.

The model was not…Matthew McConaughey. He wasn’t even Matthew’s lesser-known brother, Rooster. He was a medium-height, schlubby-built, pasty man with a face someone, somewhere could love. And he was totally naked, standing on the platform with no shame. He was there to serve a purpose: be the inspiration for the artist. He slid in and out of different poses, giving each artist in the room a different view of him to capture to paper.

He was perfect. The light caught his curves in just the right settings, casting off enough shadow so I could draw the negative space. This man with a less-than-ideal body type was an amazing model.

And so is Prince Fielder.

The Texas Rangers’ first baseman is heavy hitter, to put it lightly. To weigh it down—the man’s enormous. He is known for swinging a bat and hitting home runs. Prince’s size and batting ability have drawn comparisons to another big guy—Babe Ruth. But the Babe never stripped down for the cover of a magazine.

The ESPN Body Issue is one of my favorites. This year, the editors decided to do something different and put the girthy Prince Fielder on one of its covers in his usual poster stance: swing away with an arm outstretched toward the ball he’d just made disappear. It’s a beautiful photo capturing a natural doing what he does naturally, albeit au natural.

Social media, as you’d expect, was not so kind to Prince’s portrait.

The Body Issue, as I understand it, is not to “gawk at exceptional bodies,” but to appreciate the athletic body in all its forms. Sure, Serge Ibaka and Venus Williams  may have the more traditional athletic bodies. But Prince is no slouch. He says it himself in his interview: “You don’t have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete.” He doesn’t have the typical muscle definition or 12-pack we’ve been taught to believe all athletes should have. But he does work hard.

You can see it in his stance, in his arms, in his thighs. The man does work out. Not having Larry Fitzgerald’s body doesn’t make him any less of an athlete. There are body types for every sport. Swimmers tend to have short legs, big feet and long legs. Sprinters tend to have tight cores, large thighs and defined calves. Basketball players tend to have long arms, wide-set shoulders and long legs.

And to all this I say, so what? There are exceptions to every rule. While many will strive to have Lebron James’s or Michael Phelp’s bodies—which were built for their respective sports—it doesn’t mean an athlete with a different shape can’t excel.

prince_fielder2I’ve made my feelings about fat shaming perfectly clear: it’s a no-no. No one, no matter where he or she is on the journey, deserves ridicule for the way that person’s body is shaped. Prince’s ESPN cover and the subsequent rants from the Twitter gallery show that men are subject to body shaming just as women are. It’s cruel and it’s counterproductive. We should celebrate a healthy body, especially one that is capable of performing incredible athletic feats, no matter what the size. If he has the courage to go nude on a national magazine cover, regardless his size, he gets my congratulations.

There are a great many physical things we cannot control, but we can control our reactions to them. Prince Fielder is an exceptional athlete who’s not here for your criticism of his body. “I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Other than that, I’m not going up there trying to be a fitness model.”

What did you think of the cover? Would you be able to pose nude, be it for an art class or even a magazine cover?

photos courtesy of ESPN Magazine

Summertime Shine (From Sweat)

8 Jul
Sure, it's windowless and depressing. It's also got AC, so deal with it.

Sure, it’s windowless and depressing. It’s also got AC, so deal with it.

Editor’s note: I’ve said many times that I’m a bum, and this is proof positive. I waited an extra day to post. Sorry, peeps.

Like many of you, the long weekend was a welcome respite from the dragging days of summer. I try to lead by example, so I had every intention of going for a couple of runs this weekend. But my bed was just too damn comfortable and it was too damn hot.

Working out in the heat is never ideal. Your body temperature is already at flu-like levels, and you’re exerting yourself (hopefully) to a near breaking point. Basically, you’re beating yourself up. Add outside factors like 90-plus temps and 85% humidity under sunny skies and you’ve got a recipe for exhaustion.

As always, there are ways to beat the heat and still beat your body into fitness submission.

1. Hydrate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: water is best your best friend in any weather circumstance. It’s definitely your life force when you’re heading for an outdoor workout. Remember Game 1 of the NBA Finals this summer? Of course you do. I wrote a lovely post about it. That’s what happens when you don’t hydrate. Don’t be LeBron. Be better than Lebron.

Don't let this happen to you (on an international stage)

Don’t let this happen to you (on an international stage)

2. Keep your activity light. The reason I prefer running is because I’m cheap. It costs the $140 a year I spend on shoes. That’s slightly less than my annual Netflix and Spotify subscriptions combined. But I have conditions for running, and one of which is that the temperature cannot be above 80 degrees. I refuse. During the summer, the Weather Channel app is my friend. Not running, however, doesn’t mean I can’t walk. Second to my love of water is my love of walking. It was so hot here over Fourth of July weekend, I just grabbed my water bottle and took my dog for a nice long walk by the river. Unfortunately, it was so hot that he couldn’t get comfortable. We were both sweating buckets by the end, but at least we tried.

3. Early bird burns the calories. If you must run outside, get up early. Crack of dawn is your best bet because it should be cool enough so you don’t tire out so quickly. But be careful. Tell someone you’re going that early. The crowds are thin at daybreak, leaving great opportunity for muggers. On the absolute rare occasion I go that early, I’ll text a friend that I left.

4. Gym time. So it’s so hot that the sidewalks are steaming. You’ve gotten a weather alert on your phone that people are advised to stay indoors and use the AC. You know what place great air conditioning? The gym. Sure, it can be depressing to to be cooped up on a summer day, but it’s only an hour or two of your day. After that you’re set to enjoy the sunshine.

5. Take a dip. Swimming is so much fun. And it’s an excellent way to get a total body workout. You’ll work muscles you haven’t worked in a while, especially if you’re like me and not a frequent swimmer. For my natural ladies, I know it can be worrisome to keep your hair right after a swim. I’ll have a post coming shortly about that. But in the meantime, get your two-strand twists going, invest in a good swim cap and do some laps in the pool. Your arm and thigh muscles will thank you for it.

6. Spin out. Summertime offers better opportunities for you to just hop on your bike and go. You don’t even have set aside special bike time the way you do workouts. You can bike to work, to school, to the gym, to a friend’s house. And it fits one of my main criteria: it’s cheap! You buy the bike and pay the regular maintenance for chains, brakes and tires (much like a car, but cheaper). Plus, it’s also a great way to get some sun and fresh air.

What do you like to do to keep up your fitness routine during the summer? How do you plan on taking advantage of the sunshine?

top photo credit: HealthGauge via photopin cc

World Cup Observations

2 Jul
This man, Tim Howard, was incredible. Stellar goalie.

This man, Tim Howard, was incredible. Stellar goalie.

Like many Americans, I am a new (and disgruntled) soccer fan. The game is full of near misses and frustrating endings. The team that’s been playing crazy defense all game can get tripped up in the last 30 seconds and lose it all. It’s a frustrating thing to watch. But I love sports, so I’m learning to love soccer.

The World Cup has been so exciting this year. Despite yesterday’s loss, it’s been easy to root for the U.S. Men’s team. Having only really paid attention to soccer for the first time ever two and a half weeks ago, I can’t claim to be an expert. But there are a few things I’ve noticed so far.

1. Thighs. Soccer players have some of the most beautiful thighs I’ve ever seen on men. They are ridiculously toned. I’ve been an avid runner for about five years now and am nowhere near that kind of definition. Those beautiful quads and hams have to be well taken care of in order to kick the ball with such precision.

2. Abs. Core strength is key to almost any physical activity. These fellas have great cores. It keeps them agile and allows for some awesome scissor kicks.

3. Faces. It’s not called a beautiful game for nothing. Soccer is the CW network of sports. Marginally attractive people aren’t employed there. The only sport that comes somewhat close in the ratio of fine athletes to their less-attractive brethren is tennis, and that sport doesn’t has nearly as many players. Sure, most soccer players average about 5’7″.* But with faces like these, you have to give them a pass.

4. Speed. I heard somewhere that for the 90 minutes that soccer players are on the field, they’re averaging about seven miles of running. Seven miles! For comparison, I run six miles an hour, and I’m not chasing a ball, trying to control it with my feet, dodging 10 other people and trying to kick it into a goal.

Good job, fellas.

Good job, fellas.

5. Sportsmanship. In high-stakes competitions like the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl, you’re bound to have a few scuffles. I have yet to see any real blowups on the pitch. These guys are running around in Brazilian heat (which is no joke) for 45 minutes straight each half with other people kicking at them, tripping them, pulling at their uniforms…and no one has thrown dem bows. My favorite part is the end when the teams exchange jerseys—partly because of observation No. 2, but also because the players appreciate the other team’s hard work. It’s a really special moment.

6. Dedication. I ran a race on Saturday (five miles in 50:35, thank you very much) and the sun was beating me up. I was frustrated with the organizers for having only two misting stations and myself for not stopping for water more often. I finished, but I was not pleased at the amenities. Soccer players play through each half with no timeouts, no water breaks, no ref challenges. Nothing.** You’re just out there until your half is up. And they do it with no complaint. It’s inspiring.

Even though my team is out, I’m going to continue to watch the Cup through the end. I’ve gained a new appreciation for the sport. Will I try it? Probably not because I’m an old. But I can definitely see its universal appeal.

Now that the U.S. is out, will you continue to watch? What’s been your favorite moment so far? Mine was anytime Tim Howard let out his inner beast.

*I’m 5’2″, so I have no real right to complain about height. But a girl’s got preferences (not necessarily prerequisites).

**Players do find a way to take a breather by doing I what I call the “Paul Pierce.” Old Navy doesn’t have as many flip flops as I’ve seen during these matches. It’s hilarious, but at the same time a bit of a “Come on!” moment.

Photos courtesy of FIFA/Getty Images