Tag Archives: walking

The Gym Rat’s Ugly Truth

25 Nov

I tried to to sweaty-glam in this selfie. Really, I was just stinky.

There are a lot of people who don’t like working out. I’m one of them. But if you look at fitness ads, all of the women seem focused, yet happy about their current situations. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re achieving their goals with determination and barely breaking a sweat. You want to be that person, don’t you?

Have you ever watched women’s professional sports? None of them are happy. Serena Williams is the queen of the death glare. She grunts like she’s in labor. The only time she smiles during a tennis match seems to be after she’s demolished her competition.

You have to sweat. You end up smelling. Your clothes stick to your body. There’s nothing attractive about working out. Yet, there are all of these boutique fitness-wear shops (I’m looking at you, Lululemon) to try to make women feel attractive when they’re sweating like they’ve been in the desert sun all day.

Some women use this fancy wardrobe as a stepping stone to impart pretty-girl instincts in the gym. There’s the woman who comes in only a sports bra and teeny-tiny running shorts to only do a 15-minute walk on the treadmill. There’s also the woman who wears a full face for her low-resistance turn on the stationary bike.

I’ve never used the gym as a place to pick up potential mates. For the most part, it’s because I look a hot, dirty mess when I work out. If I’m paying $40-$50 a month to use the facilities, dammit I’m gonna actually use them. This means sweat stains in places you didn’t know sweat existed. This means hair either in a pony or, in my natural case, pulled up into a fro. I can’t wear sweatpants because my legs get hot. Yes, my legs get hot! Did you know your legs sweat? Because I didn’t until I started working out regularly.

I must—repeat must—have a towel nearby at all times in the gym (on a run, the open air keeps me from sweating into my eyeballs). I drip like I’ve just come in from a downpour. And, like most people, I recycle my workout clothes. There’s an old Sinbad joke where he talks about the two piles of laundry college kids have: dirty and funky.

(Joke begins at 4:20 mark)

Gym clothes are the same way. I will wear my dirty, stained gym clothes for days…until they start smelling. The gym can kind of be like elementary school, and no one wants to hang out with the kid that smells.

If you’re like me and don’t wash your gym clothes every day (don’t judge me), funky comes around a lot more often than you’d like. When you’re running in the open air, being funky doesn’t attack you as hard as it does in the enclosed gym. And let’s not forget that you have to take those sweaty, sticky clothes home.

When working out before work, you have to carry your gym bag with you all day. Make use of those extra shopping bags from the grocery store. You can hide the funk until you can get those clothes home to hang dry. And, please, for the love of all that is holy, let them hang dry. Nobody likes to be around the gym rat with funky, moldy clothes.

Added bonus: Gemma Correll did a cartoon of what’s advertised as fitness wear and what’s actually worn. Funny stuff.

The Perks of Living in a Walking City

15 Nov

I don’t know if I’ve said this here, but I love living in New York. It’s awesome.

From the garbage on the streets to the guy peeing in the corner of the subway, it’s truly an enchanting, quaint little town.

My favorite thing is that you can get anywhere by foot. Manhattan, where I reside, is 32 miles around the island. If you’re training for a marathon, you’re set.

The best part, though, is just walking. I’m a wanderer. I often have no plan of attack, except perhaps finding a nice cafe or a wine bar. Usually I’m just out exploring new neighborhoods. I will trek from the Brooklyn Bridge to the meat packing district and will have only stopped for a cup of joe at Joe. I’ll take a stroll on the High Line and end up walking to Macy’s at Herald Square to buy a new ‘fit.

A lot of exercise is just taking that first step. When I began my weight-loss journey, all I could do is walk. I was living in Atlanta and would get my morning exercise at the park around the corner. In the beginning, I could muster just three miles an hour walking. Now, I cringe at that rate, but I had to start somewhere.

The first step is the hardest. You have to will yourself into taking it. What do you want to learn about yourself during the process? Always have a goal in mind, but you need motivation for that first step.

When I backslide, which happens more than I’d like, my motivation to get up and walk around the city is that I don’t want to be how I was before: sedentary. There’s so much to see and do here that I’ve walked for hours without noticing. And I’m burning calories in the process. I’m learning more about the city and what I enjoy about it.

But that comes from living in a city that encourages walking. I was born and raised on the north side of St. Louis where walking around is OK, but you’ll still get the occasional side-eye. So on my visits back, I have to find places to go. Forest Park is perfect for seeing some beautiful aspects of a great historical city. The park offers so many sights, and as a native St. Louisan I can’t stress this enough: pretty much everything in the park is free. Parking, the zoo, the science center, the museum—they’re all free.

These are a few suggestions on how to get moving during a lull. Maybe it will motivate you to do a little more to burn a few more calories. Moving can be motivating.

What are some of the best walking routes in your city?

I’m Skinny, Now What?

25 Oct

skinny_now_journeyI’ve lost all this weight, now what?

No one ever really tells you how this is supposed to go. You set a plan in motion to get somewhere, but you don’t plan on what to do when you get there.

It’s like going on vacation, but you’ve only planned the flight and hadn’t considered the hotel or transportation.

That’s how I feel most of the time. Over the past five years, I’ve been working out (then vegging out) in order to reach some semblance of an ideal weight. It all began, when during a routine check-up, I found out that I weighed 200 pounds.

I’m 5-foot-2. I come from a long line of curvy women and was raised in the Midwest. We love BBQ, fried anything and lounging with drinks in our hands. While this isn’t exclusive to my home region, it is one of our marked characteristics. However, I never thought I would let myself get that big.

After the shock and tears of my new predicament, I decided to take action. By take action, I mean I read up on what people do when they take action while I ate a brownie sundae. As long as I didn’t have one everyday, I was OK, right?

So I got a book, “Extreme Fat Smash Diet.” Then I started talking to my friends who were working out a lot. They were doing Fat Smash and going to the gym. I hate to sweat, so I needed another plan. Turns out Dr. Ian Smith wanted me to actually burn some calories, too.

Then I started really reading the book. While it seemed like a good idea, “extreme” is far from a misnomer. Your meals can consist of one egg and a half cup of juice for breakfast; a cup of sliced fruit for lunch; a small veggie-only salad for a late lunch; and veggies and beans for dinner. Not too appetizing. Oh, and lets not forget the hour of cardio that you’re doing four to six days a week.

These are not the things a couch potato likes to do. But then I hopped on the scale again and decided it was time to hop on the treadmill.

I joined a Ballys. My gym-rat ex-boyfriend and I went to one once, so I wasn’t unfamiliar territory. Plus this one was closer to my house.

The first step is always the hardest, but I started to get my energy up, despite the damage all the sweat was doing to my hair.

Then I picked the book back up and tried doing the plan. It took a few stop-and-go weeks, but I finally got on track. The book says that if you stick with it, you could lose up to five pounds a week. “Yeah, right,” I thought. I avoided the scale that first week, not wanting to be disappointed if nothing was happening. At the end of week one, I’d lost five pounds!

I started really feeling myself then. It was on and popping at the gym. By that time I had already planned on a trip to Puerto Rico, which required beach attire. I refused to be mistaken for a beached whale, so I got addicted. All told, I had lost 20 pounds in six weeks by the time I got to the beach.

Since then, I’ve been doing the diet off and on. Not long after another breakup, I lost another 25 pounds the healthy way.

Yo-yo dieting over the years has helped me drop a grand total of 60 pounds. However, I’m human; I’ve gained about five to 10 of those back.

For the most part, I’m comfortable with my current weight and the shape of my body. There are a few things that need tightening up, but no body is perfect.

And that is what this blog is about. I’m close enough to my goal weight that I feel I can talk about this with others: keeping it off ain’t easy, and once you’ve gotten comfortable, how do you adjust to the new you?

It was very weird looking at myself in the mirror after having lived in this body for more than 30 years. I was used to a certain jiggle in certain places. I’d gotten comfortable with shirts, pants and even bras fitting me a certain way. There were curves that were once my calling card. Who am I now without the body that I used to live in?

I want to address that and take you on my journey of self discovery as I try to move forward in the world while trying not to lose some of the things I liked about the old me.

I’ll be posting workout updates, recipes and stories about my experience. Let me know what you think. It’s an open forum into my life (Lord, help me!). I think it’s a journey that many of us are going on, but there’s not a lot of conversation about it. Let’s discuss.