Tag Archives: tips

No Time Like the Present

17 Nov
wine

courtesy of Tumblr


When embarking on your weight-loss journey, there are a multitude of reasons to delay your departure. You need to plan out a schedule; you need to figure out what foods to cook; you need to wait for the Saturn’s fourth moon to align with Jupiter.

Waiting to start is just an excuse, and a flimsy one at that. The second you decide it’s time to take better care of your health, then take better care of your health. At that moment you can make several small adjustments before taking on a serious weight-loss regimen.

1. Pack your own lunch. There is so much sodium and fat in the foods you buy at McDonald’s, Subway or even Chipotle. And we all love Chipotle. But why not just make a salad and take it with you to work? Steam that pack of frozen veggies that have been sitting in your freezer. Dust off that cookbook your mom got you a few years ago and find something quick and light to eat.

2. Go for a walk. Walking is exercise. Depending on how much you do, it can be intense. Take a walking lunch at work. Park your car further away from the entrance so you can take more steps. Take the stairs. You’ll be challenging yourself to do something different. People regret the steps they didn’t take, not the ones they did.

3. Clean out your cabinets. When you’ve decided to take an active role in your health, you should get rid of the temptation to do bad things. Most of those bad things reside in your cabinets. There you will find all the cookies, chips, sodas, juices and all-around unhealthy snacks that have been doing you harm. They’ve got to go. No one likes wasted food, so donate the unopened packages to a food bank. Take the open ones to work. If your co-workers are anything like mine, the cookies and chips will be gone by lunchtime.

4. Don’t order that fourth glass of wine. I’ve often been out with friends when they’ve decided they’ll get back on track come Monday. In the meantime, “Another Long Island Ice Tea, please!” That’s not doing you any good. If you plan to “get back on track come Monday” (whatever that means), why would you set yourself back even further than where you are now? You can order a lighter dish at a restaurant. You can cut back on the alcohol you consume. Come Monday, it won’t be as hard to make the effort.

bugeyes

courtesy of Tumblr

5. Know that your eyes are always bigger than your stomach. As I said before, you don’t have to clear your plate. A lot of restaurants give you way too much food. The stomach isn’t that big. And if you go to a restaurant hungry—or my personal favorite, your grandmother’s house—you’re setting yourself up to overeat. Divide the items on your plate, putting half in a to-go container. Drink some water. If you’re still hungry 15 minutes later, by all means keep eating. But don’t feel obligated to eat everything that’s placed before you. That’s why we have refrigerators and Tupperware.

Now’s as good a time as any to take action on your health. Waiting until Monday just gives you more time to come up with excuses to delay your plan. These little steps will help you move forward while you figure out a plan of action.

What small steps do you take to take control of your health?

Keeping It 100

5 Nov

keepit100Every year for my birthday, I do an annual self evaluation. Beyond celebrating the most important day of the year, it’s also a time for personal reflection: What goals have I accomplished, what goals did I let fall to the side, what to I want to accomplish in the coming year, how am I going to make that happen.

In the past year, I’ve accomplished the goal of starting a health and wellness blog that tells some of my stories on the road to weight loss. I have been able to reach so many people and engage with them on the issues that are important to me. I’ve been able to fulfill my passion for writing on my own terms, and it has been amazing.

This marks the 100th post at I’m Skinny, Now What? I’d like to use it to tell you some of the things I’ve learned, some lessons I’m hoping to learn, and what I want this space to become.

1. Blogging is not as easy as you think. Everyone knows how to write, but not everyone is a writer. I’ve been writing fiction since I was 7. It was easy to make things up and tell different tales that I didn’t have to be a part of. This blog is a different animal. I am innately private. I don’t like people in my business. So I had to balance my need to write with my need for privacy and also my need to engage an audience with stories they could relate to. Luckily I am a trained reporter, so getting the facts to you all wasn’t  as much of a bear as I had expected. I’ve been walking a narrow tightrope deciding what to divulge and what to keep close to the chest. Still, I appreciate the feedback on the stories you all relate to. It gives me a little more confidence each time I tell an embarrassing story.

2. Building an audience is even harder. Not that I don’t appreciate all of you who check in on post days and those days in between, but building an even bigger audience is difficult. When I’m Skinny, Now What? started, average page views were in the low single digits. Now they’re in the mid-30s. Good, not great. The business side of this is something I didn’t plan for, but it is something I’m learning and hoping to conquer soon.

3. You never know what will click. Posts that speak to current events, like Prince Fielder’s Body Issue cover or the recent street harassment post, I had a feeling would do well. But personal stories like The Gym Rat’s Ugly Truth or How I Got Into a Bikini really hit with audiences. Sharing how I deal with the ugly side of losing weight or even the mental workout it takes convincing myself it’s OK to wear a two-piece were some of the hardest stories I wrote. But I appreciate your support in getting those out there. I will do more.

4. Never give up. This would seem like a gimme, but there were a few times when I thought of letting the blog fade. I kept running into writing blocks. My page views were decreasing. I wasn’t feeling motivated. But I’d talk to friends or family who really appreciated what I was doing. I’d post something that would just click with an audience (like my recap of the BET Awards). Or I’d just start having fun again in my posts. This blog is for you, but it’s also for me. It’s a way for me to vent and to share. It’s a way for me to improve on my craft and to motivate myself to stay healthy. This blog holds me accountable to you.

Thank you all again for a great year. It has been such an honor to take this journey with you. Let’s see what the next 100 will bring!

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.

spaceballs

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?

Injuries Abound

2 Oct
Even on concrete paths, still beware the branches.

Even on concrete paths, still beware the branches.

I’ve been running for about six years now. With the miles that I take on, I always say I could do a 10k on a Tuesday. My knee keeps me somewhat humble on my treks, but I can still get it in.

Aside from the IT band weirdness, I can gladly say I’ve been injury free. No twisted ankles, no broken limbs, no missing toenails (yes, that’s a thing). Those were all the things my runner friends told me to look out for.

Imagine my surprise when I found a new one: chafing.

Last weekend, I did a stupid thing and ran around the city for about 20 miles in a five-and-a-half hours. My hips hurt, my thighs burned and my knee was starting to get to me. At the end, all I craved was an ice bath followed by a warm shower. The ice bath did the trick and kept me from swelling. The warm shower was an amazing relief—until I began the actual washing process.

I’d been running around the city so long that my sports bra stopped being kind. Somewhere along the way, I’d rubbed off some skin on my underboob. Have you ever had to clean a wound on your underboob? Can you imagine awkwardness of putting Neosporin and a Band-Aid on an open wound there?

It was…weird, to say the least. Because this was something new, I polled my runner friends, none of whom were unfamiliar with this chafing phenomenon. No one thought it was a good idea to warn me about this crazy injury, either.

As a matter of fact, no one told me about any of the peculiar things that can happen to you as a runner. But since I’m in the business of offering readers a service, here are some things I’ve discovered can happen after you lace up your sneakers.

1. You can cut your chest with your keys and ID. My chafing injury wasn’t the first time I’ve had to bandage my boobs. Not long before that, I’d gone for a run in pocketless pants. I wasn’t going for a long run (about 4 miles), so I figured I’d be OK. Nah. My ID cards pinched my skin in such a way that I actually bled. Lesson learned: either only run in pants with pockets or stick my key and ID in my shoes.

2. Bugs have no chill. When you’re out for your jaunt, know that gnats and flies can and will get into your eyes, nose or mouth. You will gag and cough and likely want to throw up. Just get it out of your system, drink some water and take it slow. And swat away in front of you whenever you see a swarm.

3. Mowers are the enemy. It’s not so much of a problem in the late fall and winter, but during the spring and summer months you’ll have to contend with landscapers. They’re doing their jobs, so you can’t be too mad at them. But it will begin to seem that they only want to mow the grass during your time to run. I usually pull the neck of my shirt over my nose and mouth and try to hustle out of there quickly.

4. At some point, a cyclist will try to run you down. Depending on where you are, pathways can be quite narrow. One of the paths I run has a foot-and-a-half wide space for runners and a three-foot wide space for cyclists. Cyclists don’t like riding so close to one another, so they’re always in the running lane. You’re then forced into a game of chicken with the oncoming cyclist. If you’re in the appropriate lane, I say don’t move. Unless they’re distracted or yell that they can’t stop, the cyclist has to get out of your lane. Now, if you’re in the bike lane…um, good luck. Jokes aside, there is real danger in a collision. Please stay alert.

5. Beware the random twigs. Running on concrete affords you the luxury of avoiding branches and brambles. Sometimes, though, you need some fresh air. That’s where a good nature run comes in handy. Running on a beaten path can help you avoid critters like snakes (but not always, so be careful). It won’t, however, help you avoid falling tree limbs. Be mindful of the surface you’re running on. Nature runs are rife with unsteady rocks, unearthed roots and branches waiting to scratch and trip you up.

I’ve experienced all of these mishaps. None of them have kept me from hitting the ground running, but they did add a layer of precaution to my journeys. What’s the most interesting injury you’ve encountered on your weight-loss journey?

Fear as the Great Motivator

15 Sep

blairwitch

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