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!

Why a marathon and not a 5k?

Why a marathon and not a 5k?

Why run a marathon?  People ask me why I feel the need to run a marathon all the time.  They follow that question up with comments like, “why not run a 5k or 10k?”  A lot of people see the sheer distance of a marathon as ridiculous and many view them as unhealthy in the end.  That much running can cause joint issues or damage to your knees.

Yes, I have heard all this, but what the people who say these things don’t take into account are the positive things training and running a marathon can do for an individual.  Running is a lifestyle for some people, not just an exercise.

I grew up in a running family.  Before I could walk I was in a stroller going along on group runs with the Hash House Harriers.  The Hash is an international running group that mixes exercising and socializing into one event.  Even though the Hash is probably not the most appropriate group for children to hang around with, in large part because it is a group that circles around drinking and crude humor, it is a great experience that I highly recommend to all.  The group, and every hash is a bit different, is a game really.  One person, the hare, sets out before the group and marks a trail as s/he goes.  At points along the trail the hare will make misleading markings on the trail to send the runners, or hounds, in the wrong direction.  The point is for the runners to find the end by following the hare’s trail and not falling for the misleading markings that might be found.  The end of the run is always at a bar or pub of some sort.  Running to most of the people in these groups is both fun and a lifestyle.  They integrate running into their socializing.  This was my first lesson in living life as a runner.

With this being my first introduction to running you might be able to see why running is a part of who I am today and a part of what makes running a part of my lifestyle.  If that weren’t enough then you should know that my parents weren’t just hashers as I grew up, nope, they were racers.  I can’t tell you how many marathons, including the Boston Marathon, my mom and dad ran because they ran in so many!  To top it off they also have both run 50 mile races and Ultra Marathons (which is a 100 mile race).  I can’t close my eyes and remember a time when my family wasn’t running.  It became a part of me and is in my blood.

With that explained you probably are asking, what does running a marathon do for me personally in a positive way?  You get that running in general is a part of me at this point, but why not a 5k or a shorter race?  Well for me running a marathon, as oppose to a shorter race, gives me a long-term goal to focus on.  I can run a 5k in my sleep with no preparation.  A marathon though, that’s a challenge.  I live for challenges.  A marathon takes 16 – 18 weeks of dedicated training.  It’s a test of determination, organization and dedication.  Running a marathon is not about just going out for runs until you are ready for race day. Marathons take strictly calculated running calendars to be successful.  You can’t allow yourself to over sleep or go to happy hour instead of train.  You must train.

This need to keep on track keeps me from getting off track in life.  It proves to me that I can accomplish my goals.  Completing a marathon shows me that I can do anything I want to do in life.  It may sound crazy, but I do need to prove to myself from time to time that I am more than a gay guy drinking on the scene every night of the week, not that I have been accused of that or anything, but it gives me a personal goal outside of work and the bar scene.

On a different level, training for a marathon allows me to connect with my mother who lives hundreds of miles away.  If we were running a 5K we would sign up for it and not talk about it again until race day.  With a marathon we track our progress together, we motivate each other, we support each other and then we run the race together.  It gives me a way to feel like, even while living far away from home, home is still a part of me.

Basically running makes me feel free.  Work disappears for a moment.  Family and friend drama melts away.  Bills take a side step.  Life, for the moment, is nothing but my feet hitting the ground and carrying me forward.  Running is a lifestyle and huge part of me.

Ready to Run by the Dixie Chicks

Running for Life

Running for Life

What a different type of day!  I’m sitting at home after a long exhausting day of having a bit too much enjoyment.

My legs!

As you many know, if you read my earlier posting, I woke up and decided to approach my day a bit differently than I have in the past few weeks.  Today I decided I would try to function and live.

I did just that once I chugged down my unsweetened iced coffee.  Caffeinated and awake I began to function.  For starters I shaved my legs, that is not at all important for telling the story of my day, but it does explain the first picture I posted on Instagram.  Some may have wondered why I felt possessed to post a picture of my legs and now they know.

From there I put my Nike+ FuelBand and Nike+ SportsBand on my left wrist, grabbed my iPhone and Nike+ headphones and headed toward Central Park.  This was my first run in Central Park since moving to the Upper West Side.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve run in Central Park 100s of times over the past four years, but this is the first time starting on the north end.  Prior to moving up here I always started at the Columbus Circle entrance.

Let me tell you, it is a world different starting at the north side of the park.  Why?  A heck of a lot less tourist.  I

know, this city would be nothing if it weren’t for tourist so we really should, as residents, learn to embrace them.  With that in mind, sometimes you just want to enjoy a relaxing run through the park where you don’t have to jump all around tons and tons of people.

Picture from today’s run in Central Park

That is exactly what happened this time.  No jumping or dodging of tourist.  I hit the trails and headed straight toward the reservoir.  I ran at a full clip for four straight miles.  The sun was beating down on me draining every ounce of energy I had.  I knew very quickly that I had lived up to my mornings commitment to myself.  I was functioning. Albeit the sun started to wear me down toward the end.  I always approach running as if it is a race to the death.  I push myself as fast as I can go for as far as I can go… Something I know people like my mother would suggest I be a little smarter about.  I was always told growing up, “you don’t have to be the fastest, you don’t have to run the farthest, you just have to run forward.”

For the first time in at least a month, I felt alive.  From there the rest of my day was sunshine.  So much so that I decided to pay tribute and honor to this new approach to dealing with this stress, this stress and anxiety that I know won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, and go shopping.  I got myself some sassy yellow pants.

Yellow pants like sunshine from H&M

They made my day.  I feel like they are helping me to take a fresh look at life.  I have said for weeks I wanted to change myself.  Now I am.  I even went out for a drink with a friend.  I left the apartment.  It’s a step.

I don’t expect anything to be perfect or any of my problems to wash away or be pushed under the rug, but I do expect myself to do more than sit on the couch 24 hours a day 7 days a week (okay, I don’t expect myself to sit on the couch when I am not at work).

Tomorrow is a new day yet again. I will take everyday one day at a time.  My problems will still be here but I will work on them everyday.  I will learn from them everyday.  I will address them everyday. I will apologize for them everyday.  I know I am not perfect and never will be, but I can be happy again.  It’s funny when I think about it, but I can kind of apply the running mantra spoken about earlier to life, “I don’t have to be the fastest (or the best), I don’t have to go the farthest (I won’t be able to change over night), I just have to move forward.”

Song of the Day – Closer to Fine by Indigo Girls

Song of the Day – Closer to Fine by Indigo Girls

I woke up this morning feeling drugged by my allergies, but oddly I rolled over and said, “okay”.  I succumbed to the fact that not everything is going to be roses.  Without a second thought about it I dragged myself out of bed and started cooking breakfast and brewing coffee.  Time to figure out how to function.  Time to stop being such a downer.

Someone I don’t really know, although do enjoy chatting too via Twitter, wrote me a message yesterday after seeing some tweets from me and my blog that smacked a little sense into me.  He wrote:

Stop getting so stressed out! It’s a holiday weekend and you should just enjoy🙂.

First off, let me say that I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing what he wrote, but I assume not revealing his name makes it some what okay.  Anyways, receiving this from someone who hasn’t physically been around me smacked me in the face that I have let stress, anxiety, anger, sadness and every pessimistic and negative emotion consume me.

Nothing has really changed of course.  I didn’t wake up with everything okay.  I am not shitting rainbows, but I am going to allow myself to function around all the anguish.  My best friend said to me yesterday:

It’s not healthy to just sit at home night after night watching depressing movies.  Get out, have me come over or come over here.  Just do something to get yourself active.  Get a hobby. Anything.

So I am getting out.  I am going for a run.  Then I am going to stop talking about hobbies and find me one that is creative and physical.  Probably some type of dancing related thing.  We shall see.

All this lead me to today’s song of the day, Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls.  I’m not fine, as I said, but I am closer to fine enough to function.  I have to function right?

Oh, and let’s not forget, this is just a fun song to run too.  Happy Memorial Day and good luck with the day.

Running along the Hudson River

Running along the Hudson River

Hudson River running and bike path around 110th Street

Today’s run was less about adventure and more about relaxation and burning out the stress of life.  I decided to run the lower path of Riverside Park running north from my apartment on the section that stretches out right against the water.  The sun was shinning and glaring down on me pounding my shoulders as I ran along in the 79 degree temperature.

I decided to pick a song that could help motivate me to charge along so I picked Dog Days Are Over by Florence & the Machine.  I’ve let my running lax over the past month and this weekend I have run two days back to back, so really the running dark days are over for me.  At least they are if I keep up this running throughout the next week.

To access this path it is best to enter the park right at 97th Street (or 95th).  If you are not in the area you can take the 1, 2, or 3 train to the 96th Street stop and walk west until you hit the river.  From there just walk north.

After about 2 miles you will get to a great place to rest.  The West Harlem Piers.  If you are walking with friends this is a great place for a picnic.

West Harlem Piers (not the best shot, but I was running)

Once I passed the West Harlem Piers I decided to run a bit farther to explore a new area.  I took a sharp turn to find myself under the West Side Highway.  The contrast between running along the Hudson River to running surrounded by metal and concrete was the exact reason I love New York.  The city has everything to offer, every scene you could want and around every corner is a new experience.

Under the Westside Highway

The only frustrating part of the run was the bikers.  I don’t get bikers in New York City.  They expect cars to share the road with them but a majority of them refuse to share it with pedestrians or runners.  This path has a clearly labeled green line with one side clearly labeled with pictures and text saying bikes to one side and pedestrians only on the other. 

If you run on the bike side of the path you will get screamed at by 3 out of every 5 bikers that pass.  But bikers will ride in the path clearly marked pedestrians only without a second thought.  If you can’t tell I can’t stand bikers.

Biker on the pedestrian only side of the path