Alternative Activities to Help You Get Exercise!

My new favorite thing to do is finding ways to be active without having to think about it.  Sometimes going to the gym or hitting the pavement for a run is just too darn daunting.  It’s tough, especially if you just started trying to live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight, which is exactly the decision I made two weeks ago.

With that decision came a flood of hope, desire and drive.  Then reality struck on day two and I realized getting myself moving isn’t going to be easy.  I am one of those people that hates working out when I first start an exercise program, but once it becomes a regular part of my routine I start to love and crave working out.

The issue is that I still have to get to that point of craving a workout.  Two weeks into trying to achieve my challenge I realized that I needed more ways to incorporate physical activity into my everyday life.  I was using excuses like:

  • I’m too tired.
  • I had a long day at work.
  • I’d rather spend time with friends socializing than alone working out.

That’s when I realized that I just have to start looking at my personal challenge to live healthier in a different way.  My main goals or mid-year resolution is to live healthier.  This includes the specific goals of:

  • Losing Weight: Going from 170 to at least 150 (unless muscle is developed then we have to adjust for muscle weight which I deem to be good weight).
  • Eat Healthier:  Less Pringle’s, chips, fried foods, candy, cookies and other junk.  I need to learn to cook healthier meals and how to snack healthier.
  • Exercise 5 days a week: From day one I have told myself to just cover the distance or time.  Go to the gym and hop on a stationary bike or go for a run.  I just want to get some exercise 5 days a week.
  • Hit 10,000 FitBit Steps on days that I do not work out. That way I know I have still helped myself to live healthier that day while also burning off calories.

The first two weeks of this challenge were rough.  I went to the gym just a handful of times and ran once.  Each time hitting the pavement alone wishing I was doing anything else.  My passion for achieving this goal was slowly diminishing as I continued to try and push myself harder. My Fitbit Flex rarely hit the 10,000 steps per day mark, but was coming close.  I just need to make sure I am actually getting to that level and crossing it.

Then my fiancé Blair had the great idea to go hiking.  A friend of ours had gone hiking the week before and mentioned that he goes regularly.  We started to wonder why we have only gone hiking a handful of times since moving to Los Angeles.

There was an easy enough solution. We decided two Sundays ago morning to hike Runyon Canyon instead of going to the gym or running.  Can I tell you that I just adored it.  The act of hiking that is.

The hike started out relatively easy.  I was excited because I not only was getting to hike and getting to talk with my fiancé as we hiked, but I also got to catch some sun on my pasty arms.  Within minutes of starting up the trail we were on I was feeling the burn, sweating and getting a good workout. To top it all off I realized that this was a great Sunday morning activity I could do with friends instead of going to an all you can drink mimosa brunch.  Definitely a healthier activity for everyone involved.

This got me thinking, how else can I change every day activities into physical activities to help support my healthy living lifestyle challenge?  For starters, instead of playing card games at our 4th of July picnic I got our entire group of friends off the picnic blanket and standing in the open grass at the park.  We all ran around the field playing freebie, ring toss, horseshoes, some sad attempts at cartwheels, round-offs and front-hand-springs, and even some tree climbing.

Yes, we might have been having some wine while we ran around the park, but you can’t deny we were getting much needed physical activity.  We changed what could have been a day sitting, drinking and eating in a stationary position into a day of physical activity that was fun for everyone involved!

My advice to you, if you are having troubles motivating yourself the first few weeks of a new workout plan is to try to find ways to include low-impact (or even high-impact) exercises into your everyday social activities.  When you have friends with you, you are definitely more likely to get out and moving.

Activities can include:

  • Hiking.
  • Signing up for a bike tour. They offer tours of most major cities on bike. It’s a great way to see parts of your home town you haven’t seen before while exercising on a bike.
  •  Go ice skating! I went last winter with my company for fun and had a blast. I felt the burn in my legs for a few days.
  • Go to Groupon and look for cheap discounts on things like sailing, kayaking or surfing.  In New York City you can kayak on the Hudson River for free. It’s a great cardio workout and you will have a ton of fun with your friends.

There are plenty of activities out there that will allow you to fold your daily exercise into a social activity therefore giving you further motivation to keep moving forward. The more you exercise, even in these social ways, the more your mind will get in line with your need to exercise.  You’ll start to crave it.  Don’t lose your determination, just because it’s hard the first few weeks to get yourself motivated and working out each day.

Food Trackers, I guess it’s the only way to curb my junk food habit

FitBit Food Tracker
FitBit Food Tracker

The hardest part about being someone who other’s view as in shape, but who is also struggling with his weight is finding supportive help in the process.  People just don’t have sympathy for me when I complain about my weight and how to curb the growing tide of fat that is encompassing my body.

No, I’m not fat. I get it, but I have hit that age where I have to start taking care of myself better.  That’s why I begged for ideas on how to eat healthier.  Apparently I am not alone in not knowing how to eat healthier because I got zero suggestions.

This weekend was a let down.  I can hold my diet together pretty well Monday through Friday, but when Friday night comes around all bets are out the window.  This past weekend was no exception.

This weekend followed a week of exercise and cutting back on the junk food I put into my body.  Unfortunately I negated all the hard work I put into healthy living by binge eating like a college freshman.  Cookies & Cream ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, Little Debby’s, French Toast and everything in between found its way into my stomach.

Oops! I guess that is completely what we consider a fail.

I am not one to count calories or to cut anything out of my diet completely, but eating those things completely cancels out any good efforts I have made.  Everything in moderation is my motto and I ate everything in excess.

One bowl of ice cream this past weekend would have been fine.  I had no self-control.  If I can’t control myself, then I guess it’s time I find a resource that can help me.  If I can’t eat healthy, the least I can do is make sure I am not overeating in a day.

Thank goodness for my FitBit Flex and the Fitbit App on my smartphone.  If you aren’t familiar FitBit is a product that:

  • Tracks steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes
  • Monitors how long and well you sleep
  • Wakes you (and not your partner) with a silent vibrating alarm
  • LED lights show how your day is stacking up against your goal
  • And it strives to give you the motivation you need to be more active and walk a little farther each day.

I’ve used the Fitbit Flex for about a year and a half now.  I have to say I totally am addicted.  I get why they are popular and how they can be helpful.  They motivate me to walk just a little more each day before I settle into my sweats and watch television all night.  It reminds me of how sedentary or active I have been each day.

Now it can help me track the foods and drinks I am putting into my body.  It’s always had this feature, but now it’s improved! The new food tracking part of the app will be a bit aggressive, but I think motivational.  It will make me think twice before eating that 5th cookie before bed. According to FitBit’s website the updated Food Tools include:


Use your smartphone to scan food barcodes and instantly capture complete nutritional information.


Choose from 350,000+ foods in our credible database, including grocery brands and restaurant items.


Log foods fast with meal shortcuts that automatically suggest the foods you usually pair together.


Use it with your Fitbit tracker to compare your calories in with calories out.

Well, if I wanted an easy tool to track what I am eating then I have found it.  The reason I think this is necessary is because seeing is believing. If I am not writing down what I am eating then it’s like it doesn’t matter to me.  I can just sweep the bowl of ice cream under the rug and eat some chips if I don’t force myself to acknowledge just how unhealthy I am eating.  Let’s hope this app works as the next part of my attempt to live a healthier life.

It’s 10:43 am and I have taken in a total of 123 calories today from a class of water and an iced coffee.  I’ve already burned 984 calories.  I like that balance!

How I got myself to go to the gym again

images (1)I did it! I’m not impressed with myself, but I am proud of myself.  I went to the gym after work today.  I could have easily gone straight home, walked my dogs and bummed around.  Instead I made the choice to set my Waze app to direct me on how to get to my gym as quickly as possible.

That’s what I am learning.  Since I am not in the phase of working out where I love it I have to do a few things to get myself share-imageinto gear.

The first thing I learned was that I need a gym that is convenient and doesn’t cause me to go out of my way or take a lot of added time to travel to.  That was pretty easy in New York City, but I have found it more difficult in Los Angeles.

Yes there are gyms here, but in West Hollywood it seems like all the gyms are expensive and crowded.  That seems like a double gym negative.  Not to mention that a lot of the gyms are apparently very gay.  I mean people cruise at them.  I don’t need that. I have a man.

The gym closest to my office that is affordable is the LA Fitness on Bundy, but it is also crowded.  Unfortunately it’s also ghetto, the staff are rude and you have to pay for parking.  If I am paying a for a gym membership why am I also paying you to park?

imagesLuckily my wonderful fiancé found the LA Fitness Signature Club in Beverly Hills.  It’s not the best gym ever, but it has all the basics.  It has a constant flow of members in and out of the gym, but you never really have to wait for any machines so I can’t complain. It is closer to my apartment, but it only took 30 minutes to get their today from my office and is on the way home.

That’s the first trick. Make the gym convenient and easy to get to and go.

The second trick I’ve learned is motivation.  I need motivation to go.  Thinking I am a little heavier than I want to be and feeling horrible about it is surprisingly not motivation enough.  What’s really helped has been no pressure motivation.

The first thing I have been doing is whether or not my fiancé goes to the gym or runs outside I try to work out on the same days.  If I am not feeling it, but he is running, I have been pushing myself to at least get into the gym.

Fitbit Flex. It can be found at stores like Best Buys,, etc.
Nike+ GPS Watch. Great for tracking your runs!

The second motivational trick I’ve been utilizing has been Fitbit (I use the Fitbit Flex) and Nike+.  Both are great ways to put a bit of competition into the mix motivating me to keep pushing.  With Fitbit you track your steps each day.  It also helps you track your weight, food intake, calories, water intake and it lets you compete with friends and family for who has taken the most steps in a 7 day period.  What I really love is that if I see I have only hit 8,000 steps in a day the app is a helpful reminder for me to get up and go for a walk during my lunch break.  Believe it or not it works!

The third motivational trick is to schedule a vacation that requires you to be shirtless. That’s what I’ve done.  I now have until September to get my body into tiptop shape. No one wants to feel like a pregnant woman at the side of the pool unless you are in fact a pregnant woman of course.

It’s worked for now.  Here is to hoping it continues to work.  With that said I am still struggling with how to eat healthier, although I did love the Mexican food last night and the Pringle’s I had with my lunch.

Let’s recap things to help get yourself to the gym when you have no desire to, but know you need to:

  1. Convenience
  2. Motivation
  3. Beach or Pool Vacations, you never want to be the fat guy in a swimsuit!
You don't want to be the fat guy at the gym!
You don’t want to be the fat guy at the gym!

AHHHH How do I learn to eat healthier?

Screw your bread free carb free flavor free diets!
Screw your bread free carb free flavor free diets!

How do people jump from diet to diet to diet? I just want to live my life and enjoy my life. That includes enjoying what I put into my body.  Is that really so bad?

Apparently it is!

This is something I have been struggling with for a couple years now. When I was in my teens I could eat anything and everything.  Unfortunately, I did not take full advantage of my youth and fast metabolism.  While I did binge eat at times, I also had a slight eating disorder.  We called it the dancer’s diet. It’s when you don’t eat breakfast or lunch, do a lot of physical activity and then eat a small dinner with your family at night. At this time in my life I needed an eating disorder the least!  I was already skinny, tall and had a metabolism that took every tasks as a sprint instead of a slow and steady marathon like it does now.

Then I was in my early twenties.  You would think this would have changed things, but it really didn’t. I learned that if I just added a little exercise into my life I could continue to eat whatever I wanted. Sadly, I turned 26 and began to enter the later years of my twenties.

When I turned 26 I felt as if my metabolism came to screeching halt. My favorite foods, treats, and deserts all have become my enemies.  Fried chicken is a way of life for me, but how can I continue eating fried foods like I do if my metabolism is all but at a stop?  The USPS is faster at delivering mail than my metabolism is at breaking down fried foods.

Candy! Don’t get me started on candy.  I am obsessed with candy. I crave candy about as badly as I crave coffee… and that is saying something.  When I was a teen and in my early twenties I would eat Twizzlers and Mike & Ikes by the pound like it was my job.  They said fat-free on the package so why not! I would eat tons and tons of them without a care in the world.  Now if I have one I feel as if my stomach needs a wheelchair to hold it up as I walk.

What do I do? I don’t feel like I have visibly put on a ton of weight, but there is no denying that my weight is on an incline.  Coupling a slowing metabolism with medications that cause weight gain as a side effect has rendered me screwed in the battle against my weight.

Now I am about to do something I never do and reveal something I never reveal to anyone. My weight.  I am 6 feet tall and have been since the later part of high school. When I was graduating from high school at the age of 18 I weighed 138 pounds. Yes I do know this to be 100% true.  When I was graduating college and moving to NYC I weighed 140 to 145 pounds.  When I was moving into my own apartment in Astoria in 2012 I weighed 145 pounds.  Now that I am settled in Los Angeles I weigh 170 pounds.

That’s a pretty big jump! Here is a comparison for you:



























You can see from the pictures the visual isn’t 100% a big deal.  Somehow my body has distributed the weight well, but I still want to be fit an in shape.  I can see my abs, but I’d like to have a healthy tight 6 pack again.  How do you do that when you have spent 20 some odd years not caring about what you eat or drink or do?  It feels utterly impossible.

They say everything in moderation and a good workout routine is all you need.  Well I am going to test this out.  It’s hard enough to cut back the amount of junk I eat, let alone to start some crazy diet that doesn’t allow you to eat bread or solid foods.  That’s right I am calling out all you juice dieters.  How do you do it?

Anyways, I’d love to hear from all of you. What healthy things do you eat for lunch, dinner and snacks that are still 100% full of flavor?  What do you snack on while watching TV or hanging out on the weekends at home with friends? I grew up on hardy and flavorful food. I refuse to give it all up now!

It may sound strange, but I don’t think I ever learned how to eat healthy since it’s never mattered to me before.  Well, it matters now!

I love(d) my FitBit until I needed help

nike_fuelband_vs_jawbone_up_vs_fitbit_flexHave you joined the FitBit revolution?  Honestly, I think it’s worth joining.  I’ve used both FitBit and the Nike Fuelband.  While they both track much of the same information I have found that FitBit just is a better device with a better dashboard and until today have had no complaints for the past 6 months.

What is FitBit?  It’s a product that monitors the steps you take in a day, calories you burn, your sleep habits and much more.  You can also manually track your food intake, water intake and compete with friends.

The competition with friends and family is one of my favorite aspects of FitBit and why I wear mine everyday. It works exactly how it is supposed to for me.  The social aspect really motivates me to walk a little farther and push a little harder each day.  If not for anything else, to not have my best friend in Virginia “taunt” me.

Over the past few weeks I’ve really been hitting the best numbers.  My average weekly steps was balancing between 90,000 steps and 100,000 steps.  That is until yesterday.

I wear the FitBit Flex.  It’s a wristband tracker that goes everywhere with me.  Yesterday the battery died and when I went to charge it I was unable to. This started a week ago when I tried to charge it. I had to hold the battery into the charger until the Flex was charged, but this week that wouldn’t work.  To make matters worse for me, the tracker started deleting steps.

I rushed to the help section of their website for help and found out that FitBit has already concluded that my charging issue could be caused by one of the following issues:

  • Dirty charging contacts.
  • Faulty charging sources (e.g. USB port or plug).
  • A defective Fitbit charging cable or base station.
  • The Fitbit tracker is not accepting a charge

I figured, well at least this is something that has happened to others and I can try the fixes they included in this article (you can find the help article I am referring to here). Following their instructions I cleaned the Flex and the cable, I tried different USB ports on my computer and wall USB ports and I even restarted the tracker like was suggested.  Nothing was fixed and more steps were deleted.

By midday yesterday I had hit about 12,000 steps.  When I got home later in the evening I was able to get just enough charge into my Flex to sync my daily steps that it was able to track before dying, but then the unimaginable happened… my FitBit Dashboard showed only 7,000 some steps meaning it had taken steps away from me!

I gave up and tried to contact FitBit support.  No phone number is available so I completed their online form and created a case.  First I just noted the charging issue. An hour later I updated the issue with the fact that I am loosing steps.

From there I went to bed.

This morning I woke up to find that my FitBit dashboard showed me as only having covered around 2,000 steps yesterday.  I immediately updated my case again.

Now 2:00 pm PST the next day I sit here with still no response.  What happened to allowing customers to call for help?  At the very least have a faster response time to your online help forms.

I love FitBit and how it has positively changed my health and life, but so far I am very unimpressed with their customer service.

When my Nike Fuelband broke I had a new one within 24 hours since they discovered it was a faulty product.  They responded immediately and had a customer service number to call.

I may like the FitBit better for its dashboard and broader tracking abilities, but customer service needs to step up their game if they want customers like myself to keep cheering them on, recruiting new users and using their product daily.

Over eat, under eating, junk food to healthy food – Tough Choices

foodEveryone in California seems to eat all natural and healthy foods. That being the case, it couldn’t escape my mind that I don’t eat that healthy.  It’s not new news to me to have come to the realization that I don’t know how to eat well.  Portions, nutrition, calorie intake and healthy choices are all things I have a general understanding of, but in all honesty don’t fully understand.

When I was a child, preteen and then teen I was blessed with a high metabolism.  I could eat whatever I craved whenever I craved it.  Some of my favorite memories in high school involved walking to Huntsman Square  Center in Springfield, VA with my friends.  We would arrive at the shopping center and head right to the chinese food restaurant.  It wasn’t a fancy chinese restaurant…. Nope, it was one of those hole in the wall chinese restaurants with no tables inside.  You walked through the glass doors and straight to the counter.  From there you would place your order for whatever you wanted.

When it came to me and my friends, that order always consisted of the typical sugary, sodium rich battered dishes.  Something I never thought twice about because it tasted delicious and I knew I would be having the time of my life when we finally got home with the food and sat down to eat it. So the order was always placed with the worst choices possible.

While the food was prepared we would rush over to Blockbuster Video and rent some movies (yes I just dated myself, we use to go to Blockbuster).  Following that we would trot into Giant, the grocery store at this shopping center, and buy an array of snacks.  We would get a block of cheddar cheese and some crackers, candy, ingredients for my homemade ranch dip and Wavy Lays potato chips to go with it and any other goodies we could think of.

Once our bags were filled and we had our arms full of delightful food and entertainment we would head back to the Chinese Restaurant, grab our takeout order and rush back home with all our treasures.

Right upon entering the house I would whip up the ranch dip and put it in the fridge so it could set while we chowed down on our chinese food extravaganza.  Mmmmm, I can almost taste the pork egg rolls, fried wontons, orange chicken, general soy’s chicken, sweet and sour chicken and the fried rice.  Off course we would split orders like that, just to clarify I wasn’t eating it all myself.  None-the-less I still piled it on and did my fair share of the eating.

We would take a break that typically started about 30 minutes into whatever the first movie was we would be watching and rest our stomachs.  Then some time would pass and we would pull out the cheese and crackers and the chips and ranch dip.  Our fingers would get greasy beyond belief, but that was half the fun.

By the start of the second movie we would dive back into the chinese food and bust out the candy.  We ate a lot and did this just about every weekend.

Want to hear the crazy thing?  I was 6 feet tall and 135 pounds.  That is a weight I know I will never be again, but it still shocks me how skinny I was with all the junk food I ate.  I just didn’t have to worry.  I was an active teenage boy with a high metabolism.

Oh my, I apologize as I ventured a bit off course.  The memories of eggrolls were dancing in my head, but it does get me to my point.  I never had to worry so I never had to learn.

My family was pretty healthy adding to the ironic realization that I don’t know how to eat well and make good choices.  I say ironic because I’ve lived most of my life in pretty good shape.  My Mom and Dad have both run 100 mile ultra marathons and countless marathons.  They ate, slept and drank healthy as I was growing up, but none of it seems to have sunk in.

Now I am trying to change that.  As i enter my late twenties and my metabolism has started to slow I know I can’t rely on the skinny gods anymore.  I’ve started a diet regime and exercise plan, albeit I’ve only started the diet regime and are a bit behind on the exercise part. My diet though brings me back to the early comment I made about having a basic understanding of appropriate portions, calorie intake and proper food choices.

Today, for instance, I woke up and had a coconut water.  Around noon I ate a Special K Meal Bar, yes you read that correctly! I am trying the Special K challenge like a 40 year old woman.  Anyways, then around 3 I had a handful of pistachio nuts and now at 8:30 I’m just getting around to cooking dinner.

It’s like I can only go from one extreme to the other.  I eat junk or I eat nothing.  What I think I need, just like many Americans, is a nutritionist to teach me the proper things to eat and amounts to eat every day.  I’m sure I will get to the right and healthy balance between the food I eat each day and the exercise routine I do. Special K Challenge

Finally at 75%, time to gym

When the alarm sang out this morning my eyes popped open and I looked around a bit dazed.  The snooze button was hit, per the usual morning ritual, and I rolled over to cuddle with my man.  Five minutes later the alarm sang out again.  If you don’t have an iPhone I don’t have to tell you that an iPhone alarm does not wake you up like beautiful humming birds in the morning, but instead more like a rooster crowing annoyingly feet from your ears.  None-the-less I popped out of bed after the second alarm.

After days of waking up sick I finally felt as if I was 75% back to normal. From Sunday through last night I had been weighed down by really bad chest and head congestion coughing up mucus and sneezing up a storm.  I really gave my little pug a run for her money in the snorting and snoring contest this week, but now I am starting to turnaround.

Feeling a little more on top of my game and realizing that I was moving into a much more positive space physically and emotionally I realized today was my day.  Rain or shine its time to stop making excuses and get to a normal exercise routine.  I’ve been obsessing over this for the past few months, but I’ve always had priorities that kept me from the gym.  Priorities like finding a new apartment, making time to view apartment, packing up my old apartment, moving, work, being sick and needing rest, fitting in a social life or whatever else had been in front of me.  Now, with the move and being sick out of the way, I really have not excuse to not start attacking the workout routine I have set for myself.

I wrote yesterday all about my move and how it’s the starting line to the next phase of my life.  I’ve not had 5 days of rest and now it’s time to start functioning again.  I’m excited.  The horizon has a lot laid out in front of me.  I don’t feel like I have to brace for anything that’s coming my way, instead I feel like I can embrace everything headed towards me.  I want my world to be nothing but dancing, moving and being happy.  I’m so sick of the drama that encompassed me up until I moved. I’m changing and now I feel it’s time to not just change my physical location or the people around me, but the way I live my life.  I’ve repeatedly noted things I want to start doing in my life to direct me toward a more positive atmosphere. They include:

Phase 1: write more (which clearly I have begun doing)

Phase 2: Exercise more

Phase 3: Socialize more with real friends

Phase 4: Family

All of these phase have been made possible by the support of my friends and family.  I know Robbie (follow him on twitter @RobbieGVT) sends me text messages daily to encourage me to run, as does my mother and my friend Luis (@Oskrnyc on twitter). My man encourages me to write at home.  My family reaches out to me to let me know they are there and support me through this phase of my life as I break free from my past and find my future and many friends are by me taking me out to have fun. I’m changing. Little by little.