Archive | October, 2014

Running From Street Harassment

31 Oct

A couple of months ago, I was out walking my dog before my run. I was wearing what most runners wear: capris, a dri-fit T-shirt and running shoes. It was a nice day, so we took a longer walk than usual.

A young man crossed the street while Xander was doing his thing and said, “Hello.” “Hi,” I responded and kept it moving. When we got to the park, he showed up again and asked how my day was. I said fine, and moved along. A block later he caught up with me again and continued to try to carry on a conversation with me. I told him I wasn’t interested, but he kept walking with me. I used the usual tropes a woman uses when trying to get a persistent guy away from her: I have a boyfriend; I have to get going; I don’t have time; Take care. For almost five blocks, this guy followed me until I raised my voice and told him, “You’re just going to have to take no for an answer!” The rest of the way home, I was looking over my shoulder to make sure he didn’t follow me back to my apartment.

This was the second time I’d been followed by a man in less than two weeks. This type of harassment is something I’ve been dealing with since I was 11 years old.

I’ve mentioned several times on here how I’m an avid runner. What I haven’t mentioned are some of the comments, the leers, the striking sense of discomfort I get at times on these runs. I’ve had a guy cross over and nearly block my path to stare me down while I’m out. I’ve had men clap like I’m putting on a show when I’m just trying to get in some exercise. But I’ve often heard, “Damn!” “Look at that ass!” “Don’t lose too much now!”

These are just some examples from when I’m trying to maintain a certain level of health. I’d need another blog post to run down the instances when I’ve been objectified for just trying to get from Point A to Point B. Every morning on my five-minute walk from my building to the train station, I hear something from at least one guy. Every morning.

The woman featured in Hollaback’s catcall video was showing a slice of life that nearly every woman has to deal with on a regular basis. For detractors to belittle her experience by saying, “It doesn’t happen that often,” or “It was staged,” or (my personal favorite) “We can’t say ‘hi’ anymore,” is insulting, unnerving and misses the entire point.

There are women being verbally and physically assaulted for not giving some man the attention he feels he deserves. Some women are even being killed.

My walking down the street has nothing to do with anyone else’s desires. My desire to go about my day without having to appease some stranger’s need for attention outweighs any man’s need for a reciprocal hello. As one of my friend’s pointed out, some men need to learn to read social cues. Many men need to ask themselves a few questions before they speak:

  • Do you know this woman?
  • Did you two make eye contact?
  • Did she drop something and you need to get her attention to give it back?
  • Will both of you benefit from an interaction?
  • Are you going to say something to her that wouldn’t offend your mother, sister, aunt, cousin, etc.?
  • Does what you want to say absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt need to be said?

If you answered no to any of these questions, your best bet is to keep your thoughts to yourself.

This isn’t a new conversation. Women have been talking about this for years. Jessica Williams of “The Daily Show” did a segment on it earlier this month.

And still there are some men who refuse to recognize the annoyance that can lead to discomfort that does lead to fear for personal safety when dozens of strangers are trying to get your attention in one day. So, men, get over yourselves and recognize that my not talking to you has everything to do with my personal safety and nothing to do with your feelings.

I’m not going to ask if you’ve been street harassed. I’ll just ask what’s an instance that sticks out in your mind when you think of street harassment?

Work Out Burn Out

29 Oct
Your body telling you it's time to chill for a bit.

Your body telling you it’s time to chill for a bit.

There comes a point in every skinny person’s life when they need to take a step back, eat some cheese and pass out on the couch. I’m talking about the moment when you realize you’ve gone just over the edge. Yes, ladies and gents, I’m talking about work out burn out.

Not to be confused with it’s brighter, older sibling “beast mode,” work out burn out is what happens when you’ve taken beast mode too far. You start dreading spin class. You look forward to tomorrow morning’s run like a frat boy during finals week. You’re hoping that somehow, someway, a pipe burst in the showers and the gym will be closed.

This happens to the best of us. Beast mode is essential to get you to the point where you zone out all other influences. You really believe you can do anything. So you take on a 10-mile run when the most you’ve ever done is six. Who cares? You’re challenging yourself to do better. Or, you’ve decided those half-hour laps at the pool are for wimps. You can do an hour, no problem.

Beast mode can put you in the mind set that whatever you’re doing isn’t challenging enough. It can trick you into thinking that you’re on the weaker end of the beast spectrum, when in reality you’re in the middle. So instead of upping your challenge quotient a smidge, you take that sucker to ludicrous speed and nearly kill yourself in the process.


It’s like you’ve just learned how to dive off the springboard so, naturally, the next step is to jump off the 33-foot-high platform. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

I’m all for challenging yourself, but at some point you’re going to have to listen to your body when it tells you to sit your ass down. The human body is capable of so many extraordinary things. Sometimes, you have to work your way up to certain challenges.

So now you’ve worn yourself out. The very thought of lacing up your gym shoes wears you out. What’s a gym rat to do?

1. Know when it’s time to tame the beast. Your body will tell you a lot faster than your head what you’re capable of doing. Learn the difference between when your body is telling you it’s unfamiliar with something new or it just can’t do something new. Don’t let beast mode take control.

2. Don’t get caught up in the same thing. I’ve said many times that switching up your routine is beneficial in so many ways to keeping you on track. Take a break from some of your more high-impact activities to try something less intense. My suggestion would be to try yoga. You’ll be able to stretch your body in ways you didn’t think of, allowing you to be more limber for wen you’re ready to get back at it. Also, a good vinyasa yoga session is like the world’s best massage.

3. Learn the beauty of active recovery. Any marathoner will tell you they don’t just sit around carb-loading once those 26.2 miles are over. They go for light walks. They continue to stretch. They keep the heavy activity to a minimum so they can work back up to the beast.

4. Take advantage of rest days. Remember: Rest days are your friends. They are the days your body looks forward to. You’ve been working so hard. Your limbs ache in a good way. But you haven’t been getting as much sleep as you’d like because of early sessions with your trainer. Well, guess what? Even your trainer wants you to rest up. Pamper yourself and go get a massage, if yoga doesn’t work for you. You’ll thank me later.

Beast mode will always be there. It’s what is driving you to challenge yourself to do better. But don’t let it take control. That could lead to resentment of your favorite exercise. Take a few days off. Let your body miss the exercise. That way, when you come back, you’ll be stronger than ever.

What do you do when you have work out burn out? How do you tame the beast?

Competitive Nature

27 Oct
Hey Royals, more of this please (Giants must lose)...

Hey Royals, more of this please (Giants must lose)…

It’s October again, which would usually mean my hometown team, the St. Louis Cardinals, are in the playoffs. While I prefer repping my red hat, hoodie and T-shirt this time of year, I’m going to cheer for the cross-state Royals in hopes they demolish the Giants (I’m not bitter).

The Giants played good baseball and knocked the Red Birds out of World Series contention…again. San Francisco did this to us before in 2012. Not since 1985 has the buzz in Kansas City been this loud about the chances of the Royals taking another championship. Honestly, I’ve never cared one way or the other about the Royals (sorry, K.C. peeps) because I grew up with a winning team (still not bitter). However, I just really don’t want the Giants to win.

October—and the World Series—brings with it the thrill of competition, which can be a great motivator. A year ago, baseball fans would have laughed you down the street if you’d mentioned the “Kansas City Royals” and “World Series” in the same sentence. But that team competed with some of the best in the league, making it to the big dance as a wild card pick (so did the Giants, but I need them to lose). They had to compete with the city’s memory of failed teams and then with a baseball fanbase who couldn’t find Kansas City on a map. But they made it because they have consistently challenged themselves to do better.

I never really considered myself that competitive. I didn’t play sports as a kid, which was how I always associated competition. I was, however, a good student. I wanted to get good grades, so in retrospect I was in competition with myself. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized it’s not so much winning that I want, I just don’t want to lose. For me, failure really is not an option.

That’s why when I tipped the scales at 200-plus pounds a few years ago, I knew something had to change. I was losing a battle with my health. Just like in school when I had to work hard to get my desired grade, I would have to work hard to get my desired weight.

Competition comes from challenging yourself to do better than the last time. Working out with friends and family can help you achieve that. Having someone hold you accountable to your goals and your past behavior will keep you on the right track. No one likes to hear about the many ways they’ve failed to do what they’ve set out to do.

Whether they knew it or not, my friends and family held me accountable to my own goals. When I was living in Atlanta, all I wanted was to move to New York. Every time I’d settled into complacency, I’d get a phone call from a loved one (particularly my dad) asking how my plans were going to get to New York. It was just the reminder I needed that I was still competing for my goals.

When I started on my weight-loss journey, I didn’t tell many people what I was doing. I didn’t want to be held accountable to something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish. But others notice the change before you do. When friends and family would comment on my progress, I began to see it myself. I started to wonder how far I could go. I began to compete with my past self. Two-hundred-pound Cicely wasn’t able to run three miles in 45 minutes, but 175-pound Cicely could. If a smaller Cicely could do that much, how much could an even smaller Cicely do?

Challenging myself to do more became not only important, but thrilling. I wanted to shape and mold myself into someone who could do more than she did before. It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve fallen into the pit of self-sabotage once or 12 times. I’ve gotten defeated by not being able to do something I thought I was capable of doing. For that, I allowed myself a few moments of self pity. Then I began to find ways to achieve my goal.

The Kansas City Royals are now down 3-2 in a tough seven-game series. Last night’s loss had to sting. But the Royals are not out. They’ve got another chance to tie up the series tomorrow at home. It’s intense competition, but they will #BeRoyal as long as they challenge themselves to do better.

How do you compete with yourself to do better? Who are you rooting for in the World Series (not the Giants)?

UPDATE: Also, sadly, the St. Louis Cardinals lost outfielder Oscar Tavares in a car accident over the weekend. He was a great player and condolences to both his family and the family of his girlfriend, who also died in the crash.

Gif courtesy of Tumblr

Sizing Up the Matter

24 Oct
Without you, it's just fabric on a hanger.

Without you, it’s just fabric on a hanger.

Let’s be honest: shopping can be a pain in your newly shaped butt. And I like shopping. But when you’re “skinny now,” you tend to find yourself in between sizes.

No two bodies are the same. My waist makes me a size 8, but my hips still linger in the 10-12 range, depending on the stretch of the fabric. I prefer shopping using numerical sizes because it makes the search more consistent. But clothing makers are starting to shift their wares to alphabetical sizes (XS-XL).  It’s less clothes for them to make in different sizes and leads to fewer returns.

That’s great for them, but here’s the problem: one size does not fit all. Humblebrag, but I’ve always had a small waist compared to my hips. Buying jeans leaves me with two options: a gap at the waistband above my butt or a super tight fit around my hips and thighs. It’s a never-ending struggle, one you’ll have to contend with until you shape your body the way you want it.

We’re in the worst season known to man. Some days are too cold while others are too warm. You have to layer a ton of clothes, then find someplace to put them all when two scarves becomes too many. However, this dreaded time of year does have its benefits.

The layers help hide whatever’s going on while you’re trying to figure out what looks good on your figure. Skinny jeans and a larger top will cover the gap at your back. A big belt can cinch your newly narrow waist over some leggings. These will get you through some rough patches.

But you should also enjoy this time. You lived a size 16 for so long, and now you’re a size 10. There were clothes you never thought would look good on you out there just waiting to be given a chance to shine. You never tried an pencil skirt before? See what it looks like. Cropped tops used to give you muffin-top anxiety? Screw that! You’ve got a flatter belly now that’s just itching to see the sun.

There’s so much to do now that you can fit into a new size. It’s easy to feel defeated even though you’ve done such good work so far. You’ve lost a few pounds, but your favorite clothes don’t fit anymore. Maybe you didn’t like shopping before because it was hard finding things you liked in your size. Guess what, love? You’re not that size anymore. Take this opportunity to see what else looks good on you.

And remember that part: It’s what looks good on you, not what you look good in. The clothes are there to amplify you, not the other way around. These are pieces of fabric cut and sewn to look good on you. Without you, they’re just patterns on a hanger.

What are you itching to try on once you reach your goal weight? How do you deal with in-between sizes

photo credit: Zylenia via photopin cc


Happy Anniversary!

21 Oct