Friday Inspiration from a “Plus Size Princess”

In this amazing essay from CeCe Olisa, the Plus Size Princess perfectly sums up the experience of having a little extra junk in your trunk, by eloquently stating what typically goes unsaid. People have implicit judgments when they see an overweight person, and it was wonderful to see them put in such frank, accessible terms by someone who has been through it. This paragraph especially stood out:

“Big girls know that we’re big, and most of us are working on our health. I started the#PSPfit online fitness community because big girls DO work out and eat healthy. If being skinny is in the future for any of us fatties, it wont happen overnight (heck, I’ve lost 55 pounds and I’m still fat). But, in the meantime, as WE figure out what’s best for OUR bodies, I think we should be allowed to have a nice day. We should be allowed to love our bodies as they are, as we work towards being our best selves. We should be allowed to smile, laugh, dance, go on dates, and break free from the body-policing many of us have been dealing with since childhood. “

Click for Cece’s full essay at Refinery29.

“Wannabe” is Now Old Enough to Vote

Happy 18th birthday to the song that put Spice Girls on the map!

I remember camping with friends and unfortunately for our neighbors, we stayed up all night singing “Wannabe” at the top of our lungs. In the morning the head of the camp grounds rolled by our site in his pickup truck and said this line that I’ll never forget:

“You gotta keep it down at night. We didn’t just get one complaint… We got many.”

Enjoy.

 

Maureen swears by SoulCycle, but don’t call her a “fitness enthusiast”

The holiday weekend brought sun, fun, and a steady diet of bagels, cheese, beer, and chips, so there’s no better time for some serious fitness inspiration. In this special edition of “Skinny Girl Problems, I’m getting to the bottom of SoulCycle, with fellow Conqueror Maureen Granados. She was nice enough to talk to me about the softer side of the exercise institution, and Maureen’s story of dedication, perseverance, and getting in shape will definitely have you excited for your next workout. I know her Facebook posts always get me stoked for mine.

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 A lot of people’s fitness/health journey starts with an “A HA!” moment. What inspired you to get in shape?

It’s funny – I’ve never considered myself a fitness enthusiast, and still don’t…but I guess the “A HA” moment came in February 2013, when I was knee-deep in an intense work project, eating poorly out of stress and not really exercising.  It wasn’t so much an “I want to get in shape” situation as much as it was “I’d like to not completely destroy my well-being over the next two months.”  I knew regular exercise would be the best medicine but I was bad at self-motivating…so I also knew I needed something that would force me to show up, led by someone who would kick my ass.

Enter my old friend Bethany Lyons, who is an instructor at SoulCycle (one of the originals, in fact), who’d been trying to get me to come to her class there since the place opened.  Finally, I was ready to take her up on it…and I fell in love right away!  (Seriously…her class is mind-blowingly amazing.  I can’t believe I’m saying that about ANY sort of exercise, but it’s true.)

What kinds of exercise are you doing?

Besides SoulCycle, I also take yoga at Bethany’s own studio (Lyons Den Power Yoga).  I find that the two exercises complement each other really well, and having grown up dancing, I’ve always done best in a group exercise setting.  However…recently I’ve also sloowwwwly started incorporating running back in to my fitness regime…and am kind of liking it.

Tell us about the results! What are some of the rewards of all your hard work?

Again, I’m not a fitness junkie so I don’t weigh myself or track calories burned or anything like that.  I guess the best results have been those I can’t quantitatively measure: a renewed sense of self, a completely energized outlook, boosted confidence…the list goes on.

What have you found to be the key in staying motivated and dedicated to your workouts?

I think the key was finding something (or things) that I liked.  It’s easy to keep coming back when it’s fun.  Also, both Soul and Lyons Den foster a strong sense of community amongst their students.  While it’s implied at both studios that mostly everyone is there to keep healthy and stay in shape, really what instructors at both studios emphasize – and what I find to be the attitude of many of my fellow riders/yogis – is that everyone should show up with the intention of doing their best and inspiring others to do the same.  The energy this creates in each space is incredible – I will say that I have been pushed in these classes by my fellow students as much as the instructors sometimes!  And, as a result, I’ve made some phenomenal new friends who not only motivate me in class, but whose support extends far beyond the bike and the mat as well.

I’ve heard Soul Cycle can be pretty intense! What about them keeps you going back?

It’s definitely not an easy workout!  I love so many things about it, but most of all I love that it’s a workout for your body, mind AND spirit all at once (as cheesy as that may sound).  Through Soul, I have built not only physical strength but also emotional strength through the supportive yet challenging environment created by my fellow riders and the instructors.  Speaking of which: the instructors are amazing!  You’ll never experience the same class twice, and there is someone for everyone.  The four with whom I regularly ride are, for me, role models on and off the bike, and all play a major role in my dedication to SoulCycle.  I’m very lucky to know them!

What has been your proudest fitness moment?

I surprised myself recently – I signed up for a little 5K on Long Island just to see if I could do it.  I didn’t really set any goals but was just a little hopeful I could finish in 30 minutes (I’m not a runner AT ALL, so this is a good time for me)…and I ended up running it in 28 minutes and change!  It was an amazing feeling to have run faster than I ever have in my life, with seemingly less effort than when I made slower times.  I guess the work is paying off!  🙂

maureen

“This was taken following one of Bethany’s recent SoulCycle classes.  I’m second in from the left; Bethany is next to me to my left (wearing the bandana)… We had just had an amazing class and were, simply put, just so purely happy to know each other and be in each others’ presence that morning.  This photo makes me smile every time I look at it.  Oh…and hopefully no one involved minds my posting a sweaty picture of them to the internet!”

 

Team Brooklyn takes Cape Cod

Every year my college friends and I spend July 4th weekend celebrating Kristina’s birthday at her house in Cape Cod. We always hit up the beach, the seafood shop, and the local “Packie”, which is New England-speak for the liquor store, and Kristina’s parents are the best, most perfect hosts. This annual trek up north has seen us go from single to engaged to married to expecting, from playing Beer Pong and Kings all night to watching Wes Anderson movies, from loading up on Miller Light to making ginger-grapefruit cocktails with Bulleit Bourbon, and from a group of friends to straight up family. The memories from these weekends are priceless, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Here are some snapshots from Team Brooklyn’s 2014 trip to The Cape. Happy birthday, Xstina!

The Verdict Is In… “Judged by Paxton” is Awesome

Go behind the scenes of a web series created behind the scenes of another popular show.

Every Wednesday at 7pm Kyle Orozovich, Roman Urbanski, and Steve King make the Internet a whole lot better with new episodes of their web series “Judged by Paxton”. I chatted with the team behind “Paxton” to see what it takes to keep their hilarious web series in business, and how it came to be.

paxtongroup

Simply put, “Judged by Paxton” is about 3 guys who work together and try to make it through their day without getting judged by a picture of 80’s-era Bill Paxton on the wall. The series mirrors reality in a way, as it is shot and produced at Kyle, Roman, and Steve’s actual office, “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”. They all met at NBC doing cue cards for Jimmy and “Saturday Night Live”, and after rescuing the Paxton picture from being thrown away by Fallon’s prop master – it was used on the show in a bit with Bill Paxton himself – “Judged by Paxton” was born.

Once they had the perfect prop, they hung it on the wall of the cue card department, and according to Steve immediately started making jokes about how Bill looked like he was constantly judging them. Roman explained that this played into a larger goal adding, “Aside from working our hardest to get the actual (Fallon) shows ready, we try to make each other laugh as often as possible. This Paxton idea started as a way to make something in less than an hour with an iPhone.  And oddly enough it ended up being more freeing than limiting.”

paxton

As for the techy kind of stuff, it turns out a few key apps helped get the job done. “Paxton” started as a series of daily Instavideos, which didn’t quite achieve what Kyle wanted to get done. The game-changer came in the form of the app “Spark”, which according to him, let’s you shoot for 45 seconds but also allows you to edit your footage and add music. Kyle explained, “When we did it on Instagram, we had to shoot sequentially and a lot of the times it would crash and we would lose everything and have to start all over again. So Spark gave us some freedom.  Then before we knew it, 45 seconds wasn’t long enough either.” Things evolved from there and new episodes, in addition to blooper reels and other fun stuff are posted right on “Judged by Paxton’s” Youtube channel.

But what you won’t see on the channel is the inside scoop I got from the guys on the what it’s like creating a web series behind the scenes of the Tonight Show. They have a ton of good stories, but a lot revolve around what happens when people catch them shooting. Steve said that, “They’ll see Kyle standing in top of the desk with a camera while roman and I are wrestling and be like… ‘Ooookaaayyy…’ And then they usually just turn around and forget what they came for.” Roman added, “We’re always caught off guard and they’ll say, ‘You guys look like I just caught you doing something naughty.’”

As far as the Paxton crew knows, the true star of their web series, Bill Paxton, hasn’t heard about their project, but if that did happen, the results would be almost as funny as their episodes. Kyle would tell him, “we’re big fans and please don’t sue us…” While Steve is hoping for him to see it and get it kick out of it. But as the word on the series spreads, Roman should start carrying around an extra pair of pants, because if he met Bill he would ask him to be in an episode, pee himself, and walk away crying.

Season 3 of Paxton continues next Wednesday at its normal time, but as far as Season 4, the guys are keeping mum. That said, Kyle DID give away this spoiler, “We’re basically just asking for a Cease & desist now.” You can catch up on “Judged by Paxton” on Youtube, and be sure to stay there for new episodes going live Wednesday’s at 7pm. Below are the episodes that Kyle, Roman, and Steve picked as their favorites to get you excited, plus my own personal favorite for good measure.

BACK

 “Back was very fun. We got to make a TV show theme song and montage, including the ‘Notice there’s a camera in front of you and smile’ shot.” – Roman

“Recreating an opening montage similar to the ones from the 80s sitcoms I grew up on was really fun. It really brought me back.” -Steve

FIGHT

Fight was so much fun to shoot (for me, not for Roman & Steve) and it turned out really great.” -Kyle

AND MY FAVORITE… REVENGE

30 Going on 16: How I Got to my Lowest Weight Since High School

As promised in my last Skinny Girl Problems post, I turned 30 this weekend, and I did it at my lowest weight since I was 16. Leading up to my birthday, I was set on losing 2 pounds in the last 2 weeks of my twenties, but that didn’t happen… BECAUSE I LOST THREE! It wasn’t a fluke, or due to a visit from the magic weight loss fairy, which I wish was a real thing, but rather a few minor changes that took some hard work. Here are what I believe to be the keys to my success.

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MY FITNESS PAL

The first thing most nutritionists and personal trainers will tell you is to write down every thing you eat. They want you to account for every bite, every morsel, every drop of food you put in your body, so that they (and you) can see the reality of what’s going on. Back in the day, I was a HUGE advocate for the Livestrong App. It was the first thing I downloaded when I switched over to using an iPhone, but I eventually got frustrated with Livestrong’s limited capabilities (and not to mention lazy) and ultimately clicked “uninstall”.

At the suggestion of my spin teacher, who I’ll talk more about in a minute, I decided I should start logging my food again, and all signs pointed to My Fitness Pal. It had the most positive reviews, seemed to be the most user friendly, and was totally free.

After two weeks of inputting all my food, drinks, and exercise, my weight loss has been kickstarted. Turns out the little I thought I was eating turned out to be a whole lot more. Seeing the numbers in front of me has caused a decrease in my snacking, and an increase in my effort to maintain a more balanced diet. Which leads me to my next topic…

PROTEIN, PROTEIN, PROTEIN

For a whole bunch of reasons, I am a vegetarian. And because I am a vegetarian, protein is at a premium. I’ve been eating cheese all along… because, duh, it’s delicious, but few months ago, I decided to start eating eggs, greek yogurt, and milk again, especially after working out. The second I did that, my muscles started looking more like Britney at the VMA’s in 2001, and less like Britney at the VMA’s in 2007.

britney

Aside from feeling more cut, protein has helped me feel more full and satisfied after meals. That said, getting enough of the all-powerful protein is a constant struggle. Something about the synthetic stuff rubs me the wrong way, so I’m constantly trying to sneak it into every meal through greens, beans, and nuts. But if any of you have any suggestions of foods I could be eating, please please PLEASE leave them in the comments section!

CRUNCH GYM

My one year Crunch-iversary is only a few days away, and is what got this whole thing started. If you’re going to join a gym, join this one. It’s affordable, memberships are month to month, the classes are out of control good, every machine is top of the line, they have Bliss products in the locker room, and it’s SO CLEAN!

Crunch is full of helpful, friendly rock stars who make the whole experience of the gym a great one, but I have to give a shout out to the people that have been clutch in my time there. First off, Liz Barkan might just be the best spin teacher in New York City. She’s so good that I wake my butt up every Saturday morning for her 9:15am class. Second, Angel Ortiz is a miracle worker. His cardio tai box class, which incorporates high intensity interval training, makes you feel like a badass and has helped me go down a size. Finally, I start most of my workouts with a high five from Wesley, who works at the front desk at the 38th street location. He is possibly the most friendly and helpful person I’ve ever met, and saying hi to him has become one of the highlights of my workout.

BATHING SUIT SEASON

I’ll be spending most of July at the beach, and being able to rock these new purchases has been a huge source of inspiration.

swim

Victoria’s Secret // H&M // Old Navy

I still have ten more pounds I’d like to lose, and would love to hear about YOUR weight loss journey! Can’t wait to read your comments below!

 

Guac Club

I don’t want to brag, but I belong to one of the most exclusive clubs in New York City. A club that celebrates one of the greatest inventions of all time… Guac.

Guac club meets at no particular time for no particular reason, and in the past we’ve gone on the Nachos NY Guac Crawl, attended the 2013 Guactacular at The Bell House, caused a scene at Salsa y Salsa in Chelsea (which you can read about here), and recently had our fourth gathering at Horchata in the West Village.

Guac Club

Horchata is relatively new, inhabiting the old BLT Burger space, and with cocktails like the “Drunk In Love” and Hibiscus Margaritas, Abby, Andy, and I couldn’t wait to check it out. Sadly Dan was busy being a crazy awesome comedian, so he’ll just have to live vicariously through this post.

guac food

The first rule of guac club is to not to talk about how much you ate at guac club, but I’m gonna do it anyway. We of course started with the classic guac, although Horchata’s menu offers FOUR different kinds. One even uses apples and tomatillos. And for you meat eaters, the queso and house made chorizo option sounds like it’d be worth a shot… or a gallon.

The guac was super fresh, and therefore super good. And lemme tell ya about dem chips! By the taste of it, not five minutes earlier, someone had cut up fresh tortillas and dropped them in the fryer. Nothing from a bag here! I love Tostitos Hint of Lime as much as the next smart human, but there’s something about food made from scratch that always tastes better.

We went our own ways for the entrees. Abby and Andy stuck with tacos, which looked so so good, and I went with the avocado toast, which I feel like is the dish of the moment. I expected something a little more simple, however Horchata’s combo of radishes, cotija, and chipotle honey was interesting to say the least. Smoky, sweet, and salty, it made for some good eye candy to start, and totally delivered.

As a result of Horchata’s badass playlist, Guac club of course ended with some impromptu karaoke. Remember the 1997 hit “Love You Down” by INOJ? Turns out we still know every word. My sincerest apologies to our fellow diners, but my sincerest props to the staff at Horchata. They gave us a fun evening full of good food AND good music, sealing the deal that Guac Club will definitely meet there again.

*Points if you spotted Lil Jon in that video!