Tag Archives: tips

My Friend the Half Marathoner

18 Mar

Did I ever tell you I had a twin? My dad, who’s probably reading this right now, is just now finding out about this himself.

Her skin is much lighter, as are her eyes. She was born 339,840 minutes before me. She likes to say she was slathered in the SPF while my melanin-rich skin absorbed the benefits of Vitamin D.

ussies_halfThis is Beth. Obviously we’re not identical. We are, however, each other’s spiritual twins. We bonded over a love of journalism and a strong disdain for idiocy. For the past 15 years, we’ve been each other’s rocks during some pretty awful times. And although we haven’t lived in the same city since we were 22, we have remained ridiculously close. Which was why there was no question that she would stay with me last weekend while she was in town for the United Airlines NYC Half marathon.

Neither Beth nor I were runners in our younger days. It’s just something we picked up, her before me. So when I began pounding the pavement, she was one of the people I turned to for advice. When I scratched up my boobs by putting my cards in my bra, she got the first text (and responded that she couldn’t stop laughing at me). When I finally ran three miles without stopping, she was the first person to say how proud she was of me. And when my knee began to act in its funky way, she was the one to suggest all the things I could do so I could continue on my path.

If she could do all that, then I could make sure she had everything she needed for her race. This was the first time she’d ever run in New York. Her visits usually involve a show, a new tourist-y site and food. We walk around the city long enough to build up an appetite before seeing a show.

Like most of us, she was nervous before the race. Racing can be stressful, especially when you’re dealing with unfamiliar terrain. When you run, you can stop at anytime and not feel like a failure. Races have a set goal in the end. You’re not done unless you cross the finish line. When you’re competitive like us, anything less is unacceptable.

The day of the race, we woke up at 5:30 in the morning (Lord, help us) to make sure she got to the starting line on time. First of all, waking up in the dark is not the business. We were early, so neither of us was happy about that extra half our of sleep we could have gotten. Second of all, it was cold as a polar bear’s balls that morning. The forecast said it would warm up, but the wind was so harsh that we couldn’t tell.

She's a winner!

She’s a winner!

Once the crowd started rolling in, I sent her on her way and ran the 100 blocks back to my apartment. My solidarity run had my fingers freezing, but it was only five miles and I just needed to suck it up. Beth did 13.1 miles in under two-and-a-half hours. My twin is my hero and deserves all the props.

A few tips before you set off running:

  1. When going preparing for a race, be it a 5K or a marathon, your best bet is to train. You’ll learn what your pace is, how to manage your breathing and what your endurance level is. There are books, magazines, websites and trainers in abundance who can get you ready in a matter of weeks for your race.
  2. Have a few race-day outfits at the ready if you’ll be running during a tricky weather season. New York just shoveled it’s way out of a month of snow, but the temps haven’t risen enough to know it’s almost spring.
  3. Know that hydration is key to keeping it moving. For longer races, you may need more than just hydration though. Beth keeps the squeezable applesauce packs on her belt for an energy boost. Race organizers will often have those as well as race gels.
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Daytime Diva vs. Nighttime Ninja

9 Mar
Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

It’s no secret that I’ve been lamenting the snow-pac-ageddon of 2015. The winter blues have made it all but impossible for me to wake up in the morning. And when I do keep my eyes open longer than 10 minutes, the comfort of my bed won’t set me free. My bed holds me hostage in the morning because it knows that eventually I’ll have to deal with the ridiculous cold that awaits me.

So instead of torturing myself with an early wake-up call, I’ve been working out after work. Sometimes I’ll actually go to the gym if I feel like being a bag lady. For the most part, though, I’ve been coming home to make use of my exercise DVDs and some videos on Hulu (an excellent source of material, btw).

Right as I was getting comfortable in my routine, this happened.

snow_melt

Courtesy of Tumblr

 

The sun is finally shining! The temperature is finally rising above 12 degrees. I don’t have to wear my grungy puffer coat. With the time change and the impending warmth comes a return to my daytime active lifestyle. We’re in the finicky weather season, so I won’t be getting up too early. But I can feel myself readying for the sunshiny days ahead. Running on the path. Morning yoga classes. Early boot camp.

Being a nighttime ninja served its purpose to prevent me from being too slovenly. For me, though, daytime diva is where it’s at. Still, I learned a few things about myself during the long, dark, cold days of winter.

1. Winter mornings suck. I forgot how depressing it can be to wake up in the morning and it still be dark outside. I don’t have to be at work until 11 a.m. Imagine waking up at 7:30 in the morning and it still being pitch black outside? Nothing makes your bed more comfortable that the dark of night…or day.

2. Population control. There are even fewer people in the gym at night than there are in the early afternoon. Because my work hours are so wonky, I’m coming into the gym right after the post-work crowd finishes its sweat-a-thon. It’s an in-between time where gym staff can really wipe down the machines (not the half-ass wipes they get from preoccupied gym rats). It fills my need for quiet.

3. Hunger games. Working out at home has made me hyper aware of my kitchen. It’s not like I woke up one morning and was surprised by my fridge. It’s moreso that post-workout meals seemed even more important. And those meals seemed to be larger. I’m not on any workout plan right now, so I haven’t been portioning out my meals. So the spinach, chick-pea, pasta salad was run through pretty quickly. As were my Mott’s Mango Peach applesauces. And, of course, my goldfish crackers. Working out in the daytime will definitely give me better dietary focus.

4. I can’t wait for winter to be over. I miss running in the park. I miss not having to strap on 10-15 extra layers of clothes, undergarments and coats. I miss the ease of a morning workout. It seemed like less of a chore when I was doing it in warmer weather. Winter workouts feel like a punishment, especially in the mornings. At night, it feels like a continuation of the workday, not a way to start the day.

There are 11 days until spring. But with the weather warming up, I’ll return to daytime diva status in no time.

Monday-Morning Quarterback

2 Feb
Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

You’ve made it through the Super Bowl and Katy Perry’s Missy Elliot‘s performance (along with Lenny, lions, tigers and bears, etc.). Congratulations Patriots…I guess. Your coach still sucks.

By the time many of you read this, you will have been bombarded by numerous pundits on TV and the interwebs giving their take on the game last night. Many of them have never held a football. Some of them think a perfect spiral is a curl pattern. A few have only heard of a “Hail Mary” in reference to Tupac.

These are your Monday-morning quarterbacks. Now that the football season is officially over, you won’t hear the white noise that comes with uninformed opinions about the profession. Lucky you.

On your weight-loss journey, you’ll run into a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacks. They like to offer opinions on the things you should and shouldn’t do. They like to tell you that they know what’s best for you. And best of all, they love to shame you when you fall.

They are, to put it simply, full of shit.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Isn’t that the very nature of this blog? To tell me what I’m doing right or wrong?” I really hope you don’t see it that way. This blog is a platform for me to share some of my stories and for us to have a dialog about the weight-loss process. What worked for me will not always work for the next person. I’m not here to shame anyone.

Your wight-loss Monday-morning quarterbacks like to offer opinions when none are requested or required. You will run into them everywhere. Unless it’s your doctor, trainer or nutritionist—a credentialed someone whose job is to offer their take on your progress—then you might want to take their opinion with a grain of salt.

On your weight-loss journey, you’re going to try numerous methods that will get you toward your goal. You may give up meat, make your workouts solely cardio or even go on cleanse. Weight loss is a process. Figuring out what works for you is going to take time. Having others buzz in your ear about the things they think you’re doing wrong will only delay your progress.

So how do you mute-button all the unwanted opinions?

1. Just say no. Just like the devil on your shoulder who told you to kill off those last Oreos in the bag, the “angel” on your shoulder is going to offer you tips on some cleanse she found in the back of Glamour. If it doesn’t sound inviting to you, just say you don’t want to do it. You know what you’re capable of. If living off of lemon water and cayenne pepper for week isn’t it, say so.

2. Be a loner. The weight-loss journey is traveled alone. You may be invited to take classes and join clubs, but no one is losing the weight for you. It’s not a group project to shed the pounds off of your body. If there’s some group activity that you’re being invited to, do it because it’s something you want to do not because it’s something the group is doing. Group’s are good for moral support. Participating in every activity isn’t a requirement.

3. Lie. We all have those friends who want your best interests at heart…but really just want you to agree with them. If one of them comes to you with a rando piece of equipment or workout video that’s “changed their lives,” just go with it. Some people can’t accept a no, so they’ll have to settle for a “sure, that sounds great,” so you can move on to other things in life. Like many Monday morning quarterbacks, they just want someone to nod in agreement even if they don’t agree.

What did you think of the Super Bowl? How are you drowning out the pundits today?

Enemies and Side Pieces

11 Dec
This is just a misunderstanding. The treadmill is not your enemy, despite this guy's unfortunate incidence. Courtesy of Tumblr

This is just a misunderstanding. The treadmill is not your enemy, despite this guy’s misfortune.
Courtesy of Tumblr

When you’re an able-bodied person who’s not exactly physically fit, one of the hardest mental hurdles you’ll have to jump is realizing that there are things you’re capable of doing. You’ll tell yourself over and over again that walking up stairs gets you out of breath. Parking the car further away seems like a waste of time. Baked chicken is OK, but the winner will always be fried yardbird.

You’ve essentially made exercise your enemy and fattening food your side piece.

It’s easy to see exercise as the enemy. You end up sweating, hurting, aching and, occasionally, smelling. You have to set aside time in the day to physically exert yourself. If exercise hasn’t been a part of your lifestyle in, like, ever, the idea of physical activity could turn you into a rage monster.

“Why do I have to work out in order to lose weight?” you might ask yourself.

The answer is: you don’t. Exercise is an added bonus to the weight-loss process. My homie Dr. Ian Smith said it best:

Imagine owning an expensive sports car that can top speeds of 100 mph and more in just a matter of seconds. Now imagine four flat tires on that shiny red sports car. How fast do you think that car will be able to go now? The engine is fine, the tank is full of gas, and all of the electrical components of the car are like new. But with four flat tires that sports car will move up the road slower than a 10-ton cement truck. This is exactly what it’s like to diet without exercise. You need to have both working together to get the best results.

—Extreme Fat Smash Diet, 2007

Seeing exercise as the enemy can only hold you back. It is a good companion to take with you on your journey. Exercise likes to do the things you like to do. Sure, you enjoy Netflix marathons and naps, but maybe you also enjoy nature. Walking (exercise) can give you a better glimpse of it. Maybe you like lounging on the beach. Swimming (exercise) loves the beach. Or maybe you just really enjoy peace and serenity. Have you met my good friend yoga (exercise)?

Before labeling exercise your enemy, get to know it. Try to understand the activities that work best with your lifestyle and personality. Your enemy can become your best friend when you’re trying to lose the pounds.

Not as good a friend as your current side piece: fattening food. While you and exercise may have a relationship based on misunderstanding, you and and your dietary companion may need to think about a trial separation.

We’ve all taken health class. We’ve all heard our doctors tell us that the pizza, McDonald’s and Popeye’s aren’t doing us any good. But just like Pookie and his crack, it just keeps calling us.

Let me be your sponsor and tell you to let the bad food go. Make dishes like brown rice and sauteed fish your main boo. It’s hard to remain monogamous to the food that’s doing you right when the food that does you wrong is so tempting. But remember that the bad food is a side piece. It knows its place.

It knows that soon you’ll get tired of the runaround and have to choose. And after turning exercise from an enemy into a friend, you won’t want to cheat on your main boo. You’ll want to do right because it feels good to you. There will always be another fast-food restaurant or cream-covered casseroles to tempt you away. It will be on you to make your good-food main boo stick around.

How have you contended with exercise as your enemy? What’s your favorite side piece (mine is Popeye’s)?

Stress: Not Something to Be Thankful For

24 Nov
Pro tip: Do it early!

Pro tip: Do it early!

Some people thrive off of change. I’m not one of those people. I’m a bit of a control freak who likes to have my ducks in a row and Plans B-Z at the ready should anything go awry.

That’s why the holiday season is both a blessing and a curse for someone like me. This time of year brings on a number of stressors and unforeseen obstacles that you can’t really plan for. Between travel, gifts, loved ones not being there, loved ones there who you wish weren’t and the break from your routine, it’s enough to make you scream. I’d like to be able to role with the punches, but I’d also like to know where they are coming from.

Stress is one of many factors that can derail your weight-loss journey, causing a negative effect on your health. It can cause you to overeat, get headaches and even depression. And no one wants that when there are babies to hold and pie to eat.

I’ll be travelling this year, as I always do for the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll get to see a lot of family that I haven’t seen in a while and a new addition who I can’t wait to hold (hey, Harper!). The things I can prepare for are already taken care of. While I can’t control who makes the potato salad, here are a few things I’ve done (and you can, too) to alleviate some unwanted pressures.

1. Clean up. Because I’ll be gone for a few days, I cleaned up my apartment before I left. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a slob, especially when I’m in beast mode. But even still, no one wants to return to a messy  home. The stress of getting to and from the airport, rental cars, lugging luggage, etc., is enough to make you want to shoot yourself. Having a clear path from the door to your made-up bed will only make you smile on your return home.

2. Stay hydrated. One of the many benefits of water—besides keeping your internal system flowing—is what it does for you on the plane. Cabin pressure makes the air very dry. And if you’re a nervous  flier, you’ll be tempted to test out the mini bottles of alcohol. Resist temptation. Alcohol only causes further dehydration, which can make you even more uncomfortable on the plane. Drink some water or some hot tea to keep a cool head until the plane lands.

3. Preparation is key. Just like your weight-loss journey, your travel journey won’t take you far unless you’re prepared. Friends can attest that I have a horrible habit of packing my bags in the wee early hours the day of my departure. What can I say? I work best under pressure. But what they don’t know is I’ve already picked up my clothes from the cleaners and separated out what I’m going to take with me while I’m away. The next step is just folding and rolling into the suitcase. I’ll get eight hours of sleep if it kills me.

4. Set aside some me time. I’ll be with at least 30 family members over the course of five days. At some point, I’m going to need to sit in a quiet corner by myself. And that’s OK. I’m introverted; it’s what we introverts do. If the prospect of being in a crowd is too much for you, go for a walk. Take a book to a corner. Pop in your headphones for a few minutes. A little me time will make the “we” time much better.

5. Don’t forget who you were before you left. Beast mode has been really good for the past few months, but now I’ve got to set that aside for a week. That’s fine because we all need time off. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop taking care of myself. I’ll still be mentally check-listing the food that I eat and the activities I’ve done. I’ll set aside a couple of days to go for a run just so I don’t lose that part of myself. And maybe I’ll get a few people to come along with me.

This is the time of year to be thankful, and I’m ever so thankful for my family, friends, health and livelihood.