Tag Archives: tips

End of Summer Vacation

2 Sep
This summer, I could have been doing more of this...

This summer, I could have been doing more of this…

The worst season of all is upon us, but don’t let that get you down. If you’re in New York, you’re experiencing the long-awaited heatwave that was promised at the end of May. Let’s use it to our advantage.

Yes, Labor Day is over. Though the wretched fall season won’t begin until Sept. 23, its’ Back to School and Back to Work for the rest of us. We took the summer off to lay about on the beach, in the grass, by the grill, etc. It was too nice outside to stay in the gym. Working out seemed like a good idea, but there were sooooo many concerts to go attend. Sure, we all ate lots of fresh fruits and veggies this summer, but those bottomless mimosas couldn’t be left alone on the table, could they?

We just have to come to grips with the work that’s ahead of us. So how do you turn off summer brain to prepare the grunt work of fall?

1. Deal. If the first step toward recovery is acceptance, the first step toward getting back on track is admitting you got off track. It happens to all of us. And you. Will. Deal! Don’t beat yourself up about it, just accept you’re at a new starting point.

But this seemed like more fun.

But this seemed like more fun.

2. How’d you get here? Summer days almost require laziness. From brunch to the day party to the concert in the park later that night, you’ve found yourself doing things you wouldn’t make time for in the fall or winter. For me, it wasn’t so much the lack of activity (though I didn’t grind as hard as I usually do during the year) as it was the alcohol. Between the vacations and brunches, I emptied a few cups. Alcohol causes your body to burn its calories faster, leaving the food you eat stored as fat. So, a lot of those omelettes went to my waist line.

3. Remember the fun times. Working out and monitoring your diet can be a drag. It’s no fun being the responsible one. But there had to have been a point in the journey where you not only enjoyed the fruits of your labor, you also enjoyed some of the laborious acts. Is there a dish you really enjoy making? Is there a class you haven’t been to in a while? When was the last time you saw your friends at the gym? One of the easy ways to stay off track is focusing on the negative. This is your journey, and having a negative attitude about it will keep you from doing good work.

4. The never-ending journey. The weight-loss process and healthy lifestyle aren’t just things you’re doing for a little while. Full commitment means understanding this is a life change. And in life you will stumble while trying to make yourself better. You didn’t fall off your diet. You didn’t stop your workout program. You didn’t pay much attention to what you were doing. We’re in the season now of getting it back together. Do that with the knowledge that your focus shifted for a short while on your lifetime journey.

I don’t know about you, but this summer was a fun one, even if it felt a little short. I got to see friends and family I hadn’t seen in a while. I took some awesome trips and met some really great people. I can incorporate this summer’s lessons into my lifetime journey, just as you can. Let’s do it, people!

How was your summer? Did you enjoy it so much you feel you may have gotten off the fitness track? What are your plans for fall?

Weight-Loss Draft

18 Aug
You see me struggling, but the woman reflected in the mirror is part of my O-line. That's Willa.

You see me struggling, but the woman reflected in the mirror is part of my O-line. That’s Willa.

Skinny People, my favorite time of year is fast approaching. In 17 days, the Packers will face the Seahawks in the first game of the NFL season.

I. Can’t. WAIT!

I’ve made my love of football abundantly clear on this blog. It’s a fun game to watch. Over the years I’ve been able to garner an understanding of the rules (even if they do change season to season).

What I haven’t been able to do is get into pre-season football. I understand it’s necessity. Teams need to weed out the players that aren’t going to work throughout the season. It’s a good way to get fans excited about the upcoming season. And it’s a good way to get superfans started on their fantasy drafts.

Fantasy drafts are where people, from superfans to the indifferent gambler, draft players from various teams. Trades can be made throughout the season and some leagues offer winners bragging rights or even money. But to be a good general manager, you have to know what skills are key to a great team. You can pick a marquee player because you like him and he’ll get more minutes. You also have to keep in mind what kind of injuries this player has had, and what kind of team he plays with.

Cicely, how the hell does this relate to weight loss? you’re asking.

Well, many times on this blog, I’ve said that your weight-loss journey is an individual sport, and it is. You will lose the weight on your own. You will do the work and you will monitor your eating habits as an individual. But somewhere along the way, you’re going to need support. You’re going to need someone to put a bug in your ear (or up your butt) to encourage you to do better.

Getting yourself ready to take the journey is like drafting for your fantasy team. You’ll need to have a good defense ready, but also have a squad of support that will help you get a win. Just remember, you’re the quarterback on this team, so you call the plays.

If you’re totally on your own (without any groups or classes to attend), then your running back may very well be your trainer. A good trainer is hard to find. So when you find him/her, grab hold with both hands. Like the relationship between a quarterback and running back, you want someone who understands your rhythms and goals and works with you to help you achieve them. Your trainer cannot and will not do the work for you. But he will be the first to notice when you’re doing better and when you’re slacking off. A good trainer is not only someone who prepares you physically for the challenges ahead, but is also like a therapist who will listen. The beginning of your weight-loss journey is a shock to the system, and a trainer knows when you’re body is trying to psych your mind out. He will listen to you complain, and then show you that you can do more.

After you’ve picked your running back you’ve got to have your O-line (offensive line). These people are close family and friends. I don’t always advise letting people in on your journey, because it’s personal. But close family and friends whom you know will be nothing but supportive  should be clued in on what’s going on with you. They will be the ones who will compliment you when you’re doing well. They’ll join you on morning walks or runs for you to have some company. For me, the best person on my O-line was my grandmother. When I began my journey while living in Atlanta, I had to let her know that all of her Sunday dinner usuals weren’t going to work for me. So she would make sure to have some sliced cucumbers (my favorite) set aside for me. Or ff she was frying chicken that day, she’d bake a couple pieces for me to have with my meal.

The defensive end really relies on you. If you have a lot of junk food in your house, and you’re committed to starting your journey, then that stuff has to go. If you’re planning to start running, you’re going to need good shoes. Head to the store now and get sized for the right shoes that will work with the surface you’re running on. You know whether you’re an early riser. Don’t schedule training sessions or classes at times you know you’re not going to be up for. Don’ t set yourself up to fail.


Just Cycling Through

16 Jul
Repeats to self: I don't need this. I don't need this.

Repeats to self: I don’t need this. I don’t need this.

I’m going on vacation soon. Just like with any other vacation prep, I want to keep my workout routine consistent—if not amped up a smidge—before I go because I enjoy vacation brain.

However, this prep session has hit a bit of a snag and that’s because it’s about that time. The time when I ache from my navel to my knees. The time when someone calling my name more than twice a day will set me off. The time when all I crave is a brownie sundae.

Every woman goes through this rite of passage that will make her want to tear out her uterus. I cannot stand it. For at least a week (yes, sometimes it lasts longer), I become even more irritable than normal. I’m an asshole on a good day. On my cycle, steer clear.


One of worst things about this monthly tradition is the amount of food of which I can’t seem to get enough. I don’t even know it’s happening until I’m midway though the early stages. I do know that Haagen Dazs vanilla milk chocolate almond bars are everything heaven should be.

In the back of my mind I know this feeling is just temporary and when I’m back to normal I’ll regret that Five Guys burger. But in the moment I’m all


So how can you stay on track when Mother Nature is being…herself?

1. Snacking is key. Dairy is no good for your cramps, no matter how good two-fer Tuesday is at Baskin Robbins. So instead of indulging the things that will set you back, keep some sweet snacks at the ready. It’s summertime, so grapes and cherries are ripe for the picking. A tip for grapes: freeze those suckers. You’ll thank me later.

2. Take your aggression out at the gym. I know you’re irritable. I’m sure your co-worker did side-eye you when you asked her for a pen (I told you that chick’s crazy). But instead of snapping off on her—and endangering your livelihood—make  good use of that anger on the treadmill. The endorphins you build up and will calm you down. Plus it helps with cramps, and nobody wants those.

3. Think logistics. This comes as no surprise to any woman, but sanitary equipment is not the most stable. When you’re exercising, things move…a lot. When you’re in beast mode, I guarantee you things have shifted exponentially. Take caution and have backup equipment (and underwear) at the ready.

4. It’s only temporary. When you’re in it, this time seems like it lasts forever. That’s the crazy part of your brain talking to you. Tell her to shut the hell up because it’s almost over. Take comfort in the fact it will soon be over and your hormones won’t make you cry at baby elephants (not that I know anything about that).

5. It’s better than the alternative (for some). Hey, at least it came. If it didn’t you’d be reading a different blog right now. There, aren’t you happy?

6. No excuses. Remember: Excuses are what people use to justify the reasons why not. For most of my readers, they’ve been going through this for a while. Saying, “I just started my cycle,” is a rookie move. Athletes like Venus and Serena Williams, or even the entire women’s U.S. soccer team, can’t just clock out because it’s that time of the month. You’re still going to work, aren’t you? Then can still make time for your health.

I’m no hypocrite. I have to remember these tips myself every month. And as I ready myself for vacation, despite the ache in my thighs, I know the time spent on the treadmill was much better for me than throwing my stapler across the office.

How do you maintain your fitness lifestyle when Mother Nature has decided to make you her enemy?

Summertime Shine (From Sweat)

8 Jul
Sure, it's windowless and depressing. It's also got AC, so deal with it.

Sure, it’s windowless and depressing. It’s also got AC, so deal with it.

Editor’s note: I’ve said many times that I’m a bum, and this is proof positive. I waited an extra day to post. Sorry, peeps.

Like many of you, the long weekend was a welcome respite from the dragging days of summer. I try to lead by example, so I had every intention of going for a couple of runs this weekend. But my bed was just too damn comfortable and it was too damn hot.

Working out in the heat is never ideal. Your body temperature is already at flu-like levels, and you’re exerting yourself (hopefully) to a near breaking point. Basically, you’re beating yourself up. Add outside factors like 90-plus temps and 85% humidity under sunny skies and you’ve got a recipe for exhaustion.

As always, there are ways to beat the heat and still beat your body into fitness submission.

1. Hydrate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: water is best your best friend in any weather circumstance. It’s definitely your life force when you’re heading for an outdoor workout. Remember Game 1 of the NBA Finals this summer? Of course you do. I wrote a lovely post about it. That’s what happens when you don’t hydrate. Don’t be LeBron. Be better than Lebron.

Don't let this happen to you (on an international stage)

Don’t let this happen to you (on an international stage)

2. Keep your activity light. The reason I prefer running is because I’m cheap. It costs the $140 a year I spend on shoes. That’s slightly less than my annual Netflix and Spotify subscriptions combined. But I have conditions for running, and one of which is that the temperature cannot be above 80 degrees. I refuse. During the summer, the Weather Channel app is my friend. Not running, however, doesn’t mean I can’t walk. Second to my love of water is my love of walking. It was so hot here over Fourth of July weekend, I just grabbed my water bottle and took my dog for a nice long walk by the river. Unfortunately, it was so hot that he couldn’t get comfortable. We were both sweating buckets by the end, but at least we tried.

3. Early bird burns the calories. If you must run outside, get up early. Crack of dawn is your best bet because it should be cool enough so you don’t tire out so quickly. But be careful. Tell someone you’re going that early. The crowds are thin at daybreak, leaving great opportunity for muggers. On the absolute rare occasion I go that early, I’ll text a friend that I left.

4. Gym time. So it’s so hot that the sidewalks are steaming. You’ve gotten a weather alert on your phone that people are advised to stay indoors and use the AC. You know what place great air conditioning? The gym. Sure, it can be depressing to to be cooped up on a summer day, but it’s only an hour or two of your day. After that you’re set to enjoy the sunshine.

5. Take a dip. Swimming is so much fun. And it’s an excellent way to get a total body workout. You’ll work muscles you haven’t worked in a while, especially if you’re like me and not a frequent swimmer. For my natural ladies, I know it can be worrisome to keep your hair right after a swim. I’ll have a post coming shortly about that. But in the meantime, get your two-strand twists going, invest in a good swim cap and do some laps in the pool. Your arm and thigh muscles will thank you for it.

6. Spin out. Summertime offers better opportunities for you to just hop on your bike and go. You don’t even have set aside special bike time the way you do workouts. You can bike to work, to school, to the gym, to a friend’s house. And it fits one of my main criteria: it’s cheap! You buy the bike and pay the regular maintenance for chains, brakes and tires (much like a car, but cheaper). Plus, it’s also a great way to get some sun and fresh air.

What do you like to do to keep up your fitness routine during the summer? How do you plan on taking advantage of the sunshine?

top photo credit: HealthGauge via photopin cc

Every Little Step I Take

24 Jun
Who wouldn't want to go exploring on a day like this?

Who wouldn’t want to go exploring on a day like this?

For the past few weeks, I had been in beast mode. I’d been living off of salads, lean meats and beans. I’d been hitting the gym and the pavement extra hard to keep my body in motion.

And I was dog tired.

All I wanted to do is sleep when I was done. My dog had been getting the bare minimum of attention because I couldn’t keep up with him—and he’s 13. That’s 91 in dog years. So basically I was being punked in the energy department by a nonagenarian. Excuse me while I sweep up my ego.

I know I’ve got to keep moving and watching what I eat in order to maintain my health, but it’s difficult to maintain beast-mode levels of diet and exercise. So what’s a girl to do?

I got to stepping. The weather has been phenomenal in New York. We’ve had sunny skies with warm, breezy temps. It’s been perfect for lounging. But instead, I started walking.

Just keep stepping. Just keep stepping.


I’ve discussed before on here how I love exploring New York and the benefits of living in a walking city. But when you need to stay active and just keep your body moving, nothing beats walking.

Walking has to be one of the most underrated forms of exercise. You’ve been doing it since you were a toddler. You know how it works. You generally have some idea of where you’re going. And it’s an easy group activity.

So why is it the red-headed stepchild of workout routines? Because of all the reasons I mentioned above, especially the part of how you’ve been doing it since you were a toddler. But that doesn’t make it any less valid.

People need to keep moving. We’re like sharks in that if we don’t move, we die. There are actually thousands upon thousands of articles on the web that tell of the benefits of walking, especially getting in the recommended 10,000 steps a day.

Ten thousand may seem extreme, but it can be accomplished pretty easily.

1. Get a pedometer. My hiatus from beast mode has made my pedometer my friend. You’d be surprised how many steps you actually take in a day. If you have a sedentary job like I do, you probably think you take maybe 3,000 steps a day. But what about walking into work? Walking to a co-worker’s desk or another department in your building? The jumping off point to see how many more steps you need to take a day. Who knows? You might be hitting the 10,000 mark on the regular and not even know it.

2. Go on a boo stroll. Summertime is great for cheap dates. And nothing’s cheaper than free. So grab your boo and pull a Jill Scott (take a long long  around the park after dark). You can get to know each other better and burn some calories in the process. It’s a win-win.

3. Walking lunch. Eating at your desk can be a bummer, but so is having to get a wider chair because your butt is expanding. So take that half-hour or so you would to go down to the cafeteria and walk a few blocks around your office. Grab a co-worker so you two can vent about your day. It’s a great mental health break from your job and a fantastic physical health benefit to your body.

4. Park further away/take longer route from the subway. Unless you’re hauling heavy equipment on the regular, there’s no need to park right in front of the office or at the grocery store. A few extra steps won’t kill you. If you’re like me and public transportation is your pal, walk a little further to the next subway stop. Instead of walking the five blocks to my nearest station, I sometimes will walk 10 minutes to a different one. It gives me a small sense of accomplishment.

5. Become a hometown tourist. There’s nothing like discovering something new about your own town. Get off at a stop you’ve never been to before. Drive to a different part of town and walk around. Look up what’s happening in a different area than you usually hang out and go there. See what else your city has to offer outside of your own zip code. You’ll be adding steps in no time.

Keeping it moving is essential keeping your metabolism going. Walking is a great way to do that. And it’s the first exercise you learned. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

How many steps do you think you take in a day?