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.

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!

Not Ready to Make Nice with this goal – Coffee is just my addiction

I just can’t help myself.  For the first time in a long time I am writing one of my “song of the day” blogs.  If you aren’t familiar with these let me give you a brief background.

Last year when I was faced with a divorce I had to find a way to channel all my emotions.  I tried everything!  I walked two miles to work and two miles home everyday as well as daily runs to try and increase the amount of exercise in my life at the suggestion of my mother.  I tried drawing, but then remembered it’s not one of my strongest skills so I ended up just being frustrated.  From there I tried spending more time with friends, which was beneficial but at the same time didn’t allow me to reflect on my feelings.  That’s when I remembered how much music has been a positive part of my life since birth.

My mom is an amazing trumpet player.  I’ve grown up listening to her play off and on for as long as I can remember.  My father plays the trombone which I followed in his foot steps and played for seven years.  My sister also played trumpet.  My brother plays piano and sings incredibly.  He actually does backup on major Christian Rock CD’s from time to time.  As a family we have always sat around the house blasting music and singing along. I mean that we did this daily.  I know it sounds strange, but music always connected us. From there I got into dancing and color guard.  Both of which allowed me to express myself through dance and music.

With that in mind I realized that in addition to the many things I was already doing, it was a good idea to do something involving music to channel my energy.  That’s when my friend suggested I start writing blogs with every post relating to a song.  After that simple suggestion my Song of the Day blogs began and proved at the time to be very beneficial when it comes to the goal of channeling my emotions.

Over the past year however, I have transitioned away from these postings, but not completely.  Today I am writing about a song that has graced the pages of this blog more than once, Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks.

sleeping beautiesWhy am I choosing this song?  I felt it necessary to share with you where I stand with my fight against coffee and a transition to a healthier lifestyle, which I wrote about yesterday. Today, I’ve decided I am not ready to make nice with this decision!

I woke up this morning after a restless night feeling even more exhausted than I did yesterday.  After clawing my way out of bed and dragging my body to the shower I started thinking as the water splashed down upon me, “what can I do to wake up?”

I ran 4 miles the night before so exercise was out of the question, not to mention I was running behind schedule this morning. To figure out what was left I mentally reviewed the alternative natural things that can help energize me in the morning.

First I popped a multivitamin, but realized that was pretty pointless considering the level to which I was exhausted.

After 15 minutes of waiting for that to kick in I realized how ridiculous I was being.  I’m exhausted! Green tea or natural energy products just won’t cut it so I caved.  In a defeatist move, I set up the coffee pot and started brewing my delicious cup of my favorite pick me up.


Next I decided to try Mio Energy, a liquid enhancer that you add to water. It contains 60 mg. of caffeine per 8 fl oz. serving and provides 10% of your daily value of vitamins B3, B6, and B12. It has no artificial flavors and zero calories per 8 fl oz. serving.

Then I realized how guilty I felt for failing one day after saying I was finally going to attempt to stop drinking coffee.  What a rough addiction to quit, and don’t kid yourself! Coffee is addictive and hard to kick.

With that all explained, I find myself not taking a step forward today.  Tomorrow is another day and I will try my hardest to stay away from the warm embrace of a cup of coffee, but in the meantime this failure got me thinking. Maybe I shouldn’t just be looking at ways to energize myself in a healthy manor, although I am proud of myself for taking on this transition and starting to exercise more.  Maybe it’s time I look at what is causing me to wake up so exhausted and not sleep through the night?

I may not be ready to make nice with my plan to cut out coffee, but I will keep fighting until I am living the healthiest lifestyle possible.  The day I walk into my cardiologist or gastrologist and am not given strict instructions to change things about my diet like coffee will be the day I know I have been successful.

After lunch guilt

After lunch guilt

For the past two months I have been constantly on the go.  Every second has been focused on work, friends, family and travels.  It has felt almost impossible to exercise due to the packed schedule I’ve been living with mixed with a need to rest every once-in-a-while.  Now come September 9th I find myself a bit weighed down, but this time not by my schedule.  Physically weighed down is how I feel.  I feel as if I am putting on weight and that just won’t do for me.

Admittedly I am a bit hard on myself, but I can’t help but feel every ounce of food I have consumed the past few weeks sitting on my stomach, face, legs, arms and everywhere else on my body.  With that feeling consuming me I turned to my running monitor system, Nike Plus (I highly recommend checking the Nike Plus products out if you are a runner).  According to my Nike Plus account I last ran on August 24th.  In fact, according to my Nike Plus account, I ran on the 18th, 20th, 23rd and 24th of August and covered a combined total of 17 miles.  That’s just two weeks ago.  Yet, I feel like I am slothenly now.  This feeling has been amplified due to the fact that I ate a full lunch today, which is sitting heavily in the base of my stomach right this very moment, coupled with the feeling of exhaustion that consumes me due to a night of insomnia leaving me with a desire to go home straight from work and sleep.  Woah, I may not be running, but apparently I am writing in run-on sentences today…

Tonight is my first night in months without a single plan.  I am ignoring chores, not packing up my old apartment to prepare for my move, not meeting friends or anything else.  Once the clock strikes 5:00 pm I will be packing up my purse (okay, my man purse.  Call it what you want.) and heading straight to the apartment.  For the past week I have had every intention of climbing back on the horse and running today, but now the exhaustion is consuming me (reference my night of insomnia blog from 1:00 am last night).

Now step back a moment.  The need to run isn’t just that I have this strange obsession with my weight and feeling fat.  If you follow you will know that I am training for the Richmond Marathon which takes place on November 11th.  That is rapidly approaching and I only have a 17 mile a week base from two weeks ago under my belt.  Honestly, I am pretty sure I am screwed when it comes to this race.  For starters I am mentally not into the training.  Today, two months away from the race, I don’t care if I get out and train.  The only reason I am trying to motivate myself into running after work is so that I can burn off the food I have been eating lately.  The race is an after thought.

The original intent behind the race was to run with my friend Robbie from college.  I thought it would be a fun way to get to see each other and get some exercise along the way.  Additionally, I saw the marathon as a vehicle for distraction.  The first time I ran a marathon it took so much of my mind, body and spirit.  I trained rigorously for 16 weeks straight.  I assumed going into this summer, which I knew would be stressful, I could use the marathon training as an escape. This has not been the case this time around.

Now, September 6, 2012 I sit at my desk feeling full, nasty and frumpy after having finished my lunch.  Now I have to ask myself:

Should I be like the majority of Americans and throw in the towel when it comes to running today?  I could easily let my booty inflate after carbo-loading and following it up with no exercise whatsoever;


Should I run tonight.  Even when tired, push past the exhaustion and force myself to cover some distance no matter how feeble or little that distance ends up being.

Really though, I should try to get some rest and focus my energy on why I am so obsessed with my weight.  I thought this was an obsession I left behind myself in my high school years.  Can I blame the obsession on societal and social pressures or should I just admit the only person judging me for my food intake is me?

I know the answer, but it doesn’t make it easy.  Instead of addressing any of these questions and making a decision right now I instead will listen to some Destiny’s Child.  I just feel like a Bootylicious moment after taking a moment to very briefly touch on my thoughts about eating, weight and running.