Tag Archives: nyc

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?

Justice and Exhaustion

4 Dec
Scene from a New York protest across the street from Rockefeller Center.

Scene from a New York protest across the street from Rockefeller Center.

Editor’s note: This is an off-topic post, not about physical health and wellness, but about mental anguish and exhaustion from recent events.

This is difficult. Writing is my medium of expression, yet I find it hard to convey how I’m feeling right now. The best I can come up with is exhaustion.

It didn’t begin as exhaustion. It began as anger, then morphed into frustration. Now I am lulled into exhaustion. Since the summer I’ve been working very hard to stay physically fit. But I haven’t been emotionally ready for the events that have taken place since then. Eric Garner, Mike Brown, John Crawford, Tamir Rice and Akai Gurley, all unarmed, have all died at the hands of the police.

To make those tragedies worse, the officers who killed three of them won’t face any charges (the officers who killed Rice and Gurley are still awaiting a grand jury decision).

The case that’s close to my heart is Mike Brown’s because it happened where I grew up. To see your neighborhood on the news, to hear reporters talk about West Florissant, to have to explain the anger and frustration that is happening in your community is an eye-opening experience. To watch the judicial system go through its process and still not work, over and over again, has been wearing me down.

Fannie Lou Hamer said it best: “I’m sick and tire of being sick and tired.”

I am worn out from crying, protesting, donating, explaining and fearing for my people’s lives. More than that, I’m tired of people listening to us scream and not hearing the reasons why.

Earlier this week, the St. Louis Police Officers Association took issue with a handful of St. Louis Rams players who decided to show their support for members of the community by walking onto the field using the “hands-up, don’t-shoot” gesture, which has become synonymous with protesters standing in support of Mike Brown’s family. Instead of respecting these players’ First Amendment rights, the SLPOA issued a statement asking for an apology from the NFL and the Rams and also for those players to be disciplined.

The NFL, rightfully, declined. The players were showing their support for a community—my old home—that was hurting after a grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson. Peacefully expressing your frustration is not only legal, but it is a protected right. It is a right that the officers of the SLPOA are sworn to protect. The Rams are members of the community that the SLPOA has sworn to protect. And instead of protecting those rights, the organization sought to punish the players for taking advantage of those rights.

I thought a lot about this incident a lot the day it happened and throughout the week. What would make a sworn police officer think he has the right and duty to infringe on another person’s rights? How did we get to this point?

The answer is that I just don’t know. I don’t understand where we go from here. But wherever we go, it’s got to be somewhere better.

Last week during our Thanksgiving dinner, we all went around the room to say what we are thankful for. My 15-year-old cousin, whose father owns a business right up the street from where Mike Brown was shot, said she was thankful to have her family with her. We have a lot of young black men in my family right now, with majority ranging from 14 to 22. She looked at them, and with tears in her eyes, said, “It could have been anyone in this room.”

My exhaustion occasionally tips back into the realm of anger when I think about this. That this 15-year-old girl is scared for her family that way pisses me the fuck off. That those boys’ parents fear for their sons’ lives that way enrages me. That a grand jury can have video proof and an autopsy report showing an unarmed man’s death was a homicide and still not send the case to court makes me want to scream.

It is senseless. It is cruel. It is unjust. And, unfortunately, it is reality.

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.

Verdict

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.

Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

3 Jan
This is only the beginning

This is only the beginning

Like most people, I love comfort. Fuzzy slippers, warm blankets, cushy sofas. There’s nothing like the feeling of satisfaction with your own surroundings.

There are other things that give comfort, but they could have unwanted effects on your health: too much alcohol to dull a pain, smoking to calm nerves, or even too many cookies to kill a craving.

Discomfort isn’t always a bad thing. It’s good to shake things up every once in a while. When you’ve gotten too used to a routine, do something else. When you’re tired of eating the same things over and over, try a new recipe.

Comfort is why my weight has gone up and down so much over the years. Right now, we are dealing with Winter Storm Hercules (thanks Weather Channel). This sucker is expected to drop a couple of feet of snow across the northeast. Adding that I’ve been on vacation since the Friday after Christmas, and you’ve got a recipe for “I ain’t doin’ nuthin’.”

I recognize that’s not the right attitude, but I know me. I don’t run outside in temps below 40 degrees. I’ve been to the gym a couple times this week, but my sofa is just so comfortable that I’m using it as my crutch to keep me from doing anything else.

One of the things I’ve learned on my weight-loss journey is that comfort is the path toward complacency.

Being uncomfortable only means you’re doing something different. Change is not the enemy. How you deal with that change is totally on you. You can either embrace it as part of your life or change the change.

I’m not saying be drastic, if that’s not for you. Sometimes you have to take baby steps into it. For some people, switching from yoga to CrossFit would seem like a nightmare. If that’s too drastic, take a Zumba or barre class.

For me, my struggle is the winter. I hate the cold. But despite the ridiculous amount of white stuff blanketing my neighborhood—which will not be shoveled or salted, Mayor De Blasio—I will get up in the morning and work out. My two options are to 1) lace up my snow boots, double up on pants and trek down to my spin class at 11:15 or 2) pop in an exercise DVD. Seeing as how this is the forecast for the day…

weather_crop

I think I’ll go with the latter option.

How are you keeping up with your work-out plans in this weather? Or, if you’ve got sunshine, can you send me a ticket to where you are :)?

Perception vs. Reality

22 Nov
What they see...

What they see…

One of my favorite movies from the ’90s is “Clueless.” There’s a scene where Cher is trying to calm Tai down after she spies the object of her affection dancing with another girl.

Tai:  Do you think she’s pretty?
Cher: No, she’s a full-on Monet.
Tai: What’s a Monet?
Cher: It’s like a painting, see? From far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big old mess.

While going from one weight class to another isn’t exactly like this, there are similarities. People see you the way they want to. You can offer different perspectives, but the onus is on the observer to take that into account.

I don’t live near much of my family. The family that does live nearby, I only see every few months. (New York keeps people busy.) I also work out a lot. Like…a lot. When I began my journey toward a smaller me, I knew the outcome would surprise some people. My five-two frame held more than 170 pounds for most of my adult life. You don’t really notice the change yourself for a while. But when someone who hasn’t seen you in months tells you you’ve lost so much weight, you start to reassess your appearance.

Then comes the time when you’re literally inches from your goal weight and again see people you haven’t seen in forever. That was a bit difficult for me. I knew I’d lost a lot of weight and was nearing my goal. I knew that I wore a smaller dress size and that my face was thinner. But it was another thing to have people tell me that I need to start eating.

What they remember...

What they remember…

One family member actually asked me if I was starving myself. That hurt the most. I pride myself on having been able to do this the healthy way. I work out about four to five hours a week. I eat several small meals a day. But I don’t deny myself a good craving if the mood hits me. I love cookies and cake. My favorite snack is Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers. (Seriously…I do not share these things. They’re amazing.)

It’s a slap in the face (though unintended) for people to perceive me as doing something harmful to myself because the image they have in their heads is one that doesn’t exist anymore. I’ve lost a lot of weight and managed to keep most of it off for going on five years now. That’s the reality.

Always remember that, because friends and family will always view you as the rotund person you were, no mater how many pounds you drop. I’m still coming to grips with that. I haven’t lost a great deal of weight recently—three to five pounds here and there. But after not seeing someone for a year, people seem to remember the big girl from six years ago, not her smaller version from last summer.

There are a couple ways to remedy this. Visit your friends and family more often. Keep your Facebook and Instagram pages updated on your progress so there won’t be so much sticker shock when they see you in person. Or just do what I do, and remind them that you haven’t lost that much weight since the last time they saw you.

It’s somewhat like a child growing up. You remember your nieces and nephews as babies and toddlers. Then one day you’re home for Thanksgiving and they’re asking for the keys to your car. There’s an adjustment period—for both you and your loved ones—to come to terms with the new person standing there. Just try not to bite their heads off for making off-putting comments in the guise of compliments.