Archive | June, 2015

I Did It: Slacklining

8 Jun
Our instructor told us to keep our arms up for balance. "Like cops. 'Don't shoot!'"

Our instructor told us to keep our arms up for balance. “Like cops. ‘Don’t shoot!'”

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

Over the weekend I took part in New York’s OutdoorFest, an annual event to get people excited and educated about all the outdoor activities the city has to offer. There is a misconception about New Yorkers that all we do is walk from the door to the train and to another door. That’s not entirely inaccurate. That mostly happens on weekdays. On the weekends, however, we are a busy bunch. We run, we row, we hike, we even surf (New York does border an ocean, you know).

With all these and many more activities abound, it can get overwhelming to pick which one is right for you. That’s why when I perused the OutdoorFest schedule, I took a liking to the idea of slacklining. Instead of walking a tightrope, the rope–or line–you walk is slack, making it a bit more bouncy and lower to the ground when you get to the center.

I’m always up for trying something new, so I called a friend and had her try it with me.

What I learned

The first thing I learned about slacklining is that my concept of balance was a little off. I had to balance myself on one foot on a wobbly line on a windy day in a rooftop playground. I also learned that that all the squats I’ve been doing were child’s play compared to the feat of trying to stand up from a near-sitting position only using one leg.

But I also learned that my years of dance training have come in handy. That helped with using our standing leg to lift the balancing leg. Basically, I used my line leg to push off to stand rather than the balancing leg, keeping my weight relatively balanced to stand.

Also, our instructors made sure we understood that our hips had to stay straight and squared. Wobbly hips equals a wobbly line equals falling. It takes a while to get your body used to the unnatural position of standing on one foot on an unsteady surface. A few more practice tries should do it.

Camille, my instructor, giving me a little support.

Camille, my instructor, giving me a little support.

Once we were able to simply balance ourselves on the line, we tried walking. Some people were excellent at it. I was not one of those people. Every time I tried to put one foot in front of the other, I’d lose my confidence and just step off of the line. At one point my instructor tried to hold my arm steady and that helped move me across the line. But once she was gone, so was my mojo.

My instructor told me it takes a few weeks to get comfortable enough with the line to stay steady and walk, so not to get discouraged. Still, it was a bit of a womp-womp moment when many of my classmates took to it like fish to water.

One day, slackline. One day.

Verdict

Slacklining is actually a lot of fun. It takes you back to being a kid and walking the balance beam. Plus if you get really proficient at it, you can do some really cool tricks.

Which is good because you’ll be working your thigh muscles very hard. My thighs were achy the next day, but not so much that I couldn’t function. All in all, I recommend slacklining, especially as a group activity. You can find slacklining groups in your area through MeetUp or this Wiki.

photos and video courtesy of Zenovia Earle

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National Running Day

3 Jun

imageOne of the things I love most about running is that it is a vast community of people from all walks of life who just like to pound the pavement. We love to lace up our sneakers at any given time of day and get outside for some fresh air.

That’s what I did today to celebrate National Running Day. Since 2009, it has been celebrated across the country on the first Wednesday in June. From pros to novices, thousands of people will create a blur across their neighborhoods as they enjoy what this activity means to them.

I encourage everyone, if able, to give running a try. You know your body better than anyone. So, start slow with a walk if it’s best for you. That’s how I began. It started with a three-mile walk that turned into an every-other-lap jog and eventually a full-out run. Once I could only do about 5 miles an hour. Now I’m topping 6 mph. Once I was scared to run with a crowd of people. Well…that fear hasn’t completely subsided. However, I don’t let that keep me from accomplishing my goal.

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This morning, I coerced my workout nanny to join me in the park for a run. We did three miles and got breakfast. The run was sponsored by the New York Road Runners association, which strives to be the ‘Go’ that gets people running for life.We did a couple of laps around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. It’s a good dirt path where you don’t feel like you’re being rushed around. People are there to take in the views, get some fresh air and burn a few calories. This morning’s breakfast run was one of many activities planned throughout the city to keep newbies and old-heads motivated.

What are your plans for National Running Day?

Taking Out Health Insurance

1 Jun
At least she's honest. Courtesy of Tumblr

At least she’s honest.
Courtesy of Tumblr

Logic and practicality are my failsafes. They’re what I use to get through life. They’re how I make sense of the turvy-topsy-ness of society. Logic tells me that the likelihood of me being hit by a bus tomorrow is very low. But should that unfortunate event occur, it would be nice to have some systems in place to insure I’m taken care of with no problem.

That’s where my upbringing comes in. My parents beat it into me that I should have some kind of insurance. Example: my mother, who never made my school lunch, would pack up a brown paper grocery bag full of goodies when I had field trips. Why? “What if the bus breaks down and you can’t get food?”

Me: “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Her: “Well, give a sandwich to one of the kids who forgot their lunch.”

Mind you, there were three sandwiches in the bag. This is the type of environment I grew up in. You never knew if the bad was going to happen, so just make sure you’re prepared anyway.

That’s how I like to look at health and wellness. Life it going to throw an abundance of curveballs at you. You could end up being hit by a bus. You could trip and twist your ankle while walking to the bathroom. You could do any number of things that will create a stumbling block to better health. But if you’ve done nothing to prepare your body for the bad things you know are coming (loss of muscle mass, decreasing vision, lower bone density), then you’re setting yourself up for a fail.

Think of taking an active role in your health as just doubling your health coverage. When you’re mindful of your physical activity and your nutritional habits, you’re better informed when you visit the doctor. You can speak eloquently about what’s really bothering you or even what you feel good about.

By becoming more active—even just walking a mile a day—you’re able to offer insight to your physician about your physical activity. We all fill out those wretched forms when we visit the doc’s office. And often we all lie about a sedentary vs. active lifestyle. But when you get in the exam room, you can talk about how you’ve noticed a twinge in your hip when you swim. Or how you feel off balance when you run on a path as opposed to running on a treadmill. Or even how beets give you gas.

Doctors love this kind of stuff. They want to know what’s going on with you and how things have changed from the last visit. Not just your travel plans or the new additions to the house, though those can be stressful. The physical, day-to-day details keep you both on the same page.

You learn a great deal about yourself while on your weight-loss journey. You learn what you’re capable of, what you hate and what you want to be better at. It’s a great way to get in touch with who you really are in a pinch. And it’s an even better way to keep someone whose job it is to be concerned about your health in the know. You two are team. And since they’re getting your co-pay anyway, make your doctor earn it.

When was the last time you visited your doctor? Have you discussed your health and wellness plan?