Tag Archives: challenge

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

Double the Fun

13 Oct

High school football season is almost over, but many of your quarterbacks, linemen and safeties spent many a day practicing twice a day. Not just menial practices, but full-on, balls out, grunting practices. They do this for endurance, stamina and to better prepare them for the real work that comes with a game.

On my weight-loss journey, I’ve learned the importance (and the pain) of two-a-days. When I began, I was using the “Extreme Fat-Smash Diet” plan, which is rigorous in both diet and fitness. For three weeks, you’re doing at least an hour of cardio a day, with that workout sometimes being split in two. It’s what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks as I’ve returned to beast mode.

I like working out in the morning so I can have my evenings free. If I have a two-a-day, I’ve got to either sneak off in the middle of my work day to go to the gym (nearly impossible) or go after work, killing my social plans. Plus, you’re going in on a hard workout in the morning only to do it again later in the day. Then you’re likely working out again in the morning. What no one tells you about the split workouts is that it can wear you out.

It’s a lot to take on, especially if you’re new to exercising. But it also offers you an opportunity to try something different. Let your two-a-days be the chance for you to switch up your routine. It is ridiculously easy to fall into the trap of doing the same kind of workout over and over. This not only stagnates your progress, but it makes the exercise portion of your weight-loss plan mind-numbingly dull.

There are four types of cardio workouts that I usually do, but I’m always open to trying new things (you saw me hang my my hips from silk fabric). I’m primarily a runner, but I also go to spin class, use the cardio equipment at the gym and pop an exercise DVD. Whenever I have a two-a-day, I’ll do two of these. But on the next two-a-day, I’ll switch out one for another.

But maybe you’re not on a cardio kick. One day could be leg day, then the next is abs. One day you’ve got kickboxing class, then the next is swimming. One of the keys to success with any weight-loss plan is shocking your body by doing something different. If your body becomes to used to one thing, it won’t work as hard to burn the calories. Challenging yourself to try new things is very important.

Though I dread two-a-days because they’re a time suck—plus they funk up two sets of workout clothes, creating more laundry—I understand their benefit. If you find yourself stuck in a rut with your workout plan, a two-a-day could be the trick you need. Separating your workouts by at least six hours in a day helps to keep your metabolism up, which helps to burn calories. And isn’t that the goal on your weight-loss journey?

So, give it a try. You may find out a couple of quick workouts a day suit you better than a long slog in the morning.

Have you ever had to do two-a-days? What do you do to switch it up?

I Did It: Your Own Way Race

29 Sep
It was like the decline of man.

It was like the decline of man.

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

I subscribe to the Well+Good email newsletters. It’s a great site that gives me tips on what new fitness studios are opening up, what’s in my favorite celebs fridge, etc. Last week, one of the newsletters pointed to a race happening the upcoming Saturday. It’s called Race the City (Your Own Way). Runners, roller bladers, cyclists, even drivers can participate.

It’s set up like a scavenger hunt. Instead of picking up clues at each location, you’re snapping selfies and posting them on Twitter or Instagram with a hashtag so the organizers can follow you. Nine locations were designated between 110th Street and Lower Manhattan. Participants didn’t find out the locations until race day. For those of you unfamiliar with New York, trust that it’s a pretty big distance, especially by foot.

So, race day comes and I get my map. It looked a little something like this.

Double-you Tee Eff!

What did I just get myself into? Still, I told myself I’d give it a shot, and it would make an interesting blog post. (I don’t just do this for me, I do it for you, too!)

At 8 a.m., the race started. My strategy was to head west to the Intrepid, go north, loop around and come back to Paragon Sports, which was the start and finish line. The beginning was fine because I was back in my element on the West Side. Getting to Strawberry Fields in Central Park wasn’t too bad, either. Traversing Central Park was a little tricky because the Global Citizen Festival would be held there that night, so barricades were everywhere.

Running to the the East Side was where things started going downhill. I’m a West Side girl. The East Side is foreign territory. That’s when Google Maps became my friend. I got to Gracie Mansion and thought, “This could be the end.” The city was starting to wake up, I’d been running for 2 hours and was in desperate need of hydration.

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#yow #graciemansion @paragonsports

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I’ve never run longer than an hour and a half. From that point on, it was a trudge to the finish. All along, I questioned my sanity. It was getting hotter. Every 17-ounce bottle of water seemed to disappear with the quickness. Every hill looked like a monster; every bus looked like an angel.

“Just hop on the bus, no one will know,” my subconscious whispered to me. But I’m no cheater, so onward I trudged.

After South Ferry, things got a little easier. I couldn’t run anymore because my knee was not prepared for the day’s mileage. But, walking from South Ferry to City Hall to the Arch and back to the store went by faster than anything else. Five and a half hours later, I was done. Yay?

What I learned

1. Bottles of water are much more expensive on the Upper East Side. I paid almost $2 for a 17-ounce bottle. It costs 75 cents at the bodega on the corner from me.
2. I have got to work on my hills. I’ve been running for a while, but I have been lax in doing hills. This race showed me I’ve got work to do.
3. Because I’ve been running for so long, certain injuries shouldn’t surprise me. No one warned me about the damage a sports bra can do. Ow!!
4. Last but not least: Read instructions carefully. And when you’re still confused, ask questions. I have a problem in that I’m kind of a know-it-all. If instructions seem simple enough, I’ll figure out the hard stuff. I didn’t understand how there was only one prize for all participants, especially if cyclists and roller bladers were in the same pool as the foot racers. Turns out you’re supposed to take “Your Own Way” literally. I could have taken the subway or the bus to all over the city. I could have even hailed a cab. Son of a …!

I ran/walked about 20 miles in five-and-a-half hours! I wasn’t so much angry when I found that out as I was upset that I didn’t know the rules. Plus, I was exhausted and in desperate need of an ice bath. So I just took my smelly behind, my $25 gift card and my new cup home.


I’d do it again, because I got to see parts of the city I’d never seen before. But if I decide to participate next year, I’m riding a bike because this year’s winner was a cyclist.

Fear as the Great Motivator

15 Sep


When talking to people over the years about how I began my weight-loss journey, I often describe my laziness. I’m a self-confessed, couch-potato bum. I wasn’t an active child. I come from a house full of readers. We may not know how to play sports, but we can navigate a library with ease.

But I got older, my ass got wider and every flight of steps began to look like Mount Everest. I knew I needed to make a change, but I’d never done anything like this before. Of course I hadn’t. That’s how I got into my situation in the first place. Besides dancing for a few years, physical activity was a foreign concept to me. And things that are foreign can be scary.

Fear is one of the biggest obstacles you will have to overcome as you embark on your weight-loss journey. It can be so powerful that it’s debilitating. You know how to walk, obviously, but you haven’t run since recess in elementary school. The last time you rode a bike it was a Huffy 10-speed. You haven’t taken a class since college almost 15 years ago. Doing these things will muck up your routine, and they’re all unfamiliar to you and the body you’ve developed.

Have you ever been so scared to something that you did it anyway just to relieve the anxiety of fear?

That was how I decided to just go for it. You’ll hear lots of disclaimers about not participating in any strenuous physical activity without your doctor’s consent. I’m a big believer in that, too. But after you’ve gotten the doc’s OK, the only thing holding you back is you and your fears.

So what are you really afraid of? That you’ll run out of breath? That you’ll hurt yourself? That you’ll make a fool of yourself? Let me help you out: you will do all those things and more.

If you’re brand new to the whole exercise thing, you will definitely get short of breath a lot faster than some of the other people around you. And you will deal with it. Never, ever push yourself to the point where you absolutely cannot breathe. But don’t shortchange yourself to the point where you’re not really working yourself. Always remember: oxygen is good.

A little pain got you scared? Again, you will deal. Your body is going to fight you so hard on the “damage” you’re about to do to it. You will ache in places you didn’t know could ache. I knew my hamstrings would get tight, but I never thought my butt muscles would betray me. That’s when I became good pals with my friend Epsom Salt. A quarter-to-half cup of that in a hot bath will ease a lot of your aches and pains. Or, if you’ve worked your legs overtime, an ice bath is the trick for you. Just think bath.

Humiliation is a fear we can all relate to. Who hasn’t tripped and fallen in front of others? Who among us hasn’t seen that one guy at the club looking like he’s having a seizure when he’s supposed to be doing the Dougie? It’s embarrassing to be the new person. But you won’t always be new. You will get the hang of things, you just have to keep trying. The person killing it in front of your Boot Camp class wasn’t always the star pupil. They tripped over their aerobics stepper just like you did. The fastest swimmer at your pool once had to doggy paddle to do laps. And then they got better, as will you.

Don’t let your fears keep you from doing what’s important to you. Use them as motivators to keep you moving on the right track.

What scares you most about working out? What steps can you take to overcome them and even use them to your advantage?

photo courtesy of Tumblr

Bargaining Chips

20 Aug
If you saw this outside your window, would you stay in, or get in a couple miles?

If you saw this outside your window, would you stay in, or get in a couple miles?

One day when I was out for a run, it had started drizzling. I’m a G, so I thought this wouldn’t be a problem. It was supposed to rain that day, but I didn’t expect anything too heavy.

I was wrong.

Halfway through my run, the skies opened up and let out a downpour. Several us who were out sought cover in a nearby tunnel. I was pissed because I had to stop my timer and wait out the rain. So I did what anyone else does when they’re waiting: I checked my TwiBookGramBlr. While I’m wasting valuable running away minutes to stay dry and for FOMO, a runner comes through the tunnel to show us all up. Not only did she keep her pace through the puppies and kittens falling from the sky, she did it with one arm. Yes, Skinny People, I was shamed by the awesome amputee runner.

To her, the rain wasn’t anything more than an added challenge. To me, it was a no-no.

When I made the decision to start my weight-loss journey, I gave myself all kinds of reasons not to do things. I couldn’t work out in the morning because I hate waking up before the sunrise. I didn’t like going to the gym after work because I hated getting home late or possibly missing a night out with friends. The big kicker, though, was weather. I refused to walk/run in temperatures that did not fall within the 47- to 74-degree range (I like symmetry. Leave me alone .)

It wasn’t until then I realized that I was hampering my potential growth by limiting myself so tightly.

It’s easy to fall into those traps. Making the decision to begin the weight-loss journey is one of the hardest things you’ll do. Committing to that decision is the real test. Your body will fight you on it. You’re putting yourself through changes you’re used to. So you begin making bargains. Mentally, you want to do better. But you don’t want to scare yourself off the process. You tell yourself that you’ll work out, but only at certain times of the day. You’ll monitor your diet, but if someone offers you cake, you can’t be rude. And, if you’re me, you will NOT run in temps outside the approved temperature range.

Because this is all psychological, I can’t tell you what your turning point will be. There will just come a day when you realize the bargains you’re making with yourself aren’t doing you any good. I can tell you that, for me, I just wanted more of a challenge. The sidesteps I was taking weren’t getting me any closer to my goal.

So I began to loosen my restrictions. For a couple months, I would only walk the three miles around the trail. That got boring, so I began to walk 2/3 of a mile then run the last third. I would wake up early because the trail was less crowded. If the temp dipped below 45, I’d walk my dog to test out the weather. Just because The Weather Channel says it’s one temp doesn’t mean it feels that way. Now I can run nonstop for multiple miles. I’ve got warm gear for the cold days and loose gear for the warm days. I’m not an idiot: I go to the gym or pop in an exercise DVD in inclement weather. But I haven’t set hard-and-fast rules that will keep me from my goal.

The commitment to a health and fitness plan is confining enough. Don’t make it worse with the limitations of what you won’t do—much different from what you can’t do. You have no idea what you are capable of. You could one day be shamed by an awesome amputee into finishing your run in the rain. I like to think she kept going by thinking to herself, , “F— it! I’ve got to get it in.”

Have you ever placed arbitrary limits on yourself? If you broke them, how did you do it and how did it make you feel?

photo credit: laffy4k via photopin cc