Every Workout I Did This Year

It’s been an amazing year at the gym, and here, with the help of the almighty Beyonce, are photos before, during and after the 175 workouts I did as a 32-year-old. Thanks to my gym fam for helping me shine. Enjoy!

 

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In Weight Loss, Perception is Half the Battle

It takes a gym girl to know one, and lately I’ve been noticing a good friend of mine looking fierce on Instagram. Yes, even more fierce than the side pony I rocked last week at Crunch, but because of a common … Continue reading

How to KEEP Going to the Gym

We’re midway through January, which means one of three things:

1) You’re still keeping up your New Year’s Resolution to get fit

2) You gave up on the gym last week

3) You never went in the first place

This post is aimed at everyone in group number one. Congratulations! We’re all very proud of you.

Nicki-Minaj-Anaconda-Video-LARGE

Exercise isn’t easy. If it was, we’d all be camping out for the new Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Core Ice Cream. Working out is a pain in the ass (and the rest of your body if you’re doing it right) and recently this tweet caught my eye:

ex tweet

This anonymous tweeter hit on something that makes a lot of people pack up their sports bras and quit. And as a gym regular, I’m here to help with a few tips on how to keep it fun.

-THE BUDDY SYSTEM

A lot of people skip the gym to hang with their friends, so make the gym the place you hang out. Find a friend to work out with who will hold you accountable, and be pissed if you flake. It’s easier to get through that final set, or a tough class, when you have someone sharing your pain. I also recommend getting to know the people who work at the gym, because when they say “see you tomorrow”, you want to prove them right.

-DRESS ALL CUTE

This might sound dumb, but ditch your old Garfield tee shirt and pajama pants for some cute gear, and I promise you’ll immediately have more fun. It’s like when you get a new dress or a sweet pair of kicks. You want to show them off, and the same goes for gym clothes.

And you don’t have to spend a ton of money either. Old Navy has a sale like every five minutes and their clothes last forever. My trick is to buy everything in the same color palette, which makes it easy to mix and match.

Clueless-009-full

-LOAD UP YOUR IPHONE

One of my favorite things is the Nerdist podcast, and the only place I let myself listen to the Nerdist podcast is at the gym. Reserve a bunch of things to listen to and watch during your workout, and you’ll actually start looking forward to your time on the treadmill…

-DON’T DO STUFF YOU HATE

…And on that note, while the treadmill is my jam, you might find it to be super boring and repetitive. Simple solution for that, stay off the treadmill. You will never find me on the elliptical machine because I totally hate it. I’d lose my damn mind if I took more than two spin classes in a week, so I don’t.

You have to find the things you like at the gym and only do them. Mix it up, take the classes, and come up with a varied schedule that both challenges your body and leaves little room for your mind to wander.

-THINK ABOUT HOW YOU’LL FEEL AFTER

I know I’m not the first one to say this, but when I’m really having trouble finding the motivation to exercise, I always fast forward to how I’ll feel afterwards. If you think about it, you’ll only spend about 60-90 minutes at the gym, which means it takes three episodes of Mindy Project, or one and a half listens to the new Taylor Swift album to feel like a new person.

And in that time, those exercise endorphins will make you feel all happy, and you’ll earn the right to try some of that new Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Core Ice Cream. You’ll also sleep better, think more clearly, and feel like a total badass.

-AND FINALLY

If all else fails, pretend you’re Buffy. How are you gonna kill all those vampires if you can’t run a mile or do a sit up? This might only work for me…

buffy

Click here for more on my weight loss journey.

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.

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!”

 

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!

 

Three Quick Rules for Finding Your Inner Beyonce

I only have a month left of my twenties, and I spent the last ten years with the secret goal to not be fat for these pivotal years. Every time I saw a lucky penny or blew out my birthday candles, that is what I wished for, and the only reason I never told anyone about this is because I failed.

I spent a lot of time being insecure about life instead of living it, but for whatever reason that started changing about two years ago. Something clicked, and I was finally able to start making healthy decisions that equaled fitting into pants at H&M. I documented the process in my tongue in cheek “Skinny Girl Problems” posts, however since writing that last one, I kind of, sort of got fat again. But then I got small again, and here are the three rules that helped me find my inner Beyonce.

I Want to Wake Up Like Dis

1) Decide to.

I decided to switch out sandwiches for salad. I decided to haul my ass to the gym most nights and get myself to the 9am spin class every Saturday. I decided to cut back on alcohol and all the late night eating it brings, and I decided to start making choices that I knew wouldn’t leave me feeling guilty. Then, rule number two helped me stick to these decisions.

2) Have a kick ass support system.

There was the time I had to text Emily and Ariele for help during a work meeting catered by Buffalo Wild Wings, all the progress photos Stickles and I share with each other, my boy Jon Best at work holding me to my gym regimen and my recent #NoSweetsForThreeWeeks goal, Staci-Lyn for being the kind of best friend who always lets me talk about my weight loss and keeps me on track, and all you good people who were down to get juice or sit in the park, instead meeting up for a drink, dinner, or all the ice cream ever.

Rule three has proven to be the hardest of them all, which of course means it’s the most important.

3) Keep calm and don’t lose your shit when you go off track.

I’m not even close to being perfect, and sometimes when I lose all sense of control and eat enough pizza and french fries to put me in the running to be the next Kobayashi, I am so blinded by my missteps that I can’t picture myself getting back in the zone. Or the times when work, travel, sickness, or other variables have kept me away from the gym, and immediately have me mentally preparing to be my former chubster self, who wears shorts under skirts.

In the past, these instances have been the kryptonite to my progress, and the game changer for long time success was being able to accept my moments of weakness, and move on from them quickly so I can get back to business. In the simplest terms, it took me a minute to realize that if I took an hour, day, or even week off, I wouldn’t immediately gain all the weight back. Pretty obvious, but also good to know.

In total, I don’t know the exact number of how much weight I’ve lost, and I’m not sure I want to. I’d rather focus on what I’ve gained; confidence, a general feeling of health, strength, and the ability to wear this dress. Here’s to starting my thirties accomplishing what I wasn’t able to do for the last ten years.

dress

BRIYONCE

 

The Uniform

Up until very recently, I was the antithesis of a uniform dresser. As an art school kid, it was always about looking as funky as possible and amassing as many unique items as it took to set me apart. And after graduating, this habit didn’t change. I looked at my wardrobe as a way to keep up with the Jones’s so to speak, and used it as a way to compensate for something I’ve worked really hard to change. My weight.

By now you all are quite familiar with my Skinny Girl Problems, but for once I’d like to post about a Skinny Girl Perk. Now that my body is where I want it, I can dress in the way I’ve always wanted to, instead of in a way that caters to my insecurities. Despite my rock and roll tendencies, I’ve always known deep down that I’m kind of preppy. As a kid, I would ogle the Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger ads and imagine myself as that dancing  skinny girl in the GAP khaki commercials. Now, because of the work I put in, I can indulge all of that. It isn’t about finding something that comes in my size anymore. It’s about wearing things that make me feel like me. And what I’ve learned is I am the dancing girl in the GAP ad, but instead of khakis, I’m shaking my booty in ripped jeans.

So when it comes to “The Uniform,” try to buy a few good things that fit nice, work together, and most importantly compliment who you are, instead of defining it.  So below is my uniform, and in turn, the payoff for a lack off egg sandwiches, burgers, and pizza that only now seems worth it. Enjoy!

uniform

SWEATER, SWEATER, DENIM SHIRT, JEANS, BOOTIES, BOOTIES, BUTTON DOWN, SHIRT, SHIRT, JACKET, SCARF, EARRINGS, NECKLACE, HAT

Skinny Girl Problems

The holidays are over and as I sit here pretending this Fiber One 80 calorie, chocolate cereal is chilaquiles, I can’t help but think of the days when baby had a little more back. This newly skinny girl has gotten her eating back in control, but boy oh boy it hasn’t been easy. My date for all the work and family parties was a big ole hunk of cheese and now I’m paying for it. A few stomach aches and a tad bit more badonk later, this eating lockdown is necessary and totally sucky. Once you get a taste of the dark side, joining up with Luke and Obi Wan isn’t as easy as it used to be. Here now for you, 2013’s first batch of skinny girl problems.

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Going Veg- Let’s talk about wontons baby, let’s talk about tur-ur-key, let’s talk about all the good things and the meat things I can’t eat. My fling with vegetarianism started in high school. I was driving home from a shift at Panera Bread, listening to midnight Metallica on X103, when all of a sudden a flatbed truck carrying about ten million live chickens pulled up next to me. That was all it took. For the last bunch of years, I’ve been on and off the meat, but for the last 6 months, I’ve been pretty darn strict with it. This strigency is partly due to my soft spot for the am-nimals and partly due to the fact that Billie Joe Armstrong is a veg, but mostly due to how much my diet improves without meat. I feel light as a feather and eat a million times more produce. The only problem is…

I WANT TO EAT ALL THE BURGERS- Umami, Shake Shack, Corner Bistro, oh my! The things I would do for a burger right now would make my parents very un-proud. You meat-eating, non-dieters, don’t know how good you have it. I’m at the point where I want to throw in the towel and say eff it. They opened a Steak and Shake in NYC… Have I gone? NO. Why? Because I’m a stupid skinny girl now. This blows.

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I ruined pizza night- There I was last week crawling around on the floor with my nephews, when my sister suggested inviting over another kid and his mom for a pizza night. There were three parents, three kids, and one me. Out came the pizza menu for a classic midwest squares, not triangles, type of place, and I uttered the forbidden phrase, “Do they have any salads?” It was as if I had suggested serving hamburgers at a mosque. (Can’t stop thinking about burgers…) Everyone stared at me, and politely indulged my request, even though it was kind of a pain in the a-s-s. The salad I got ended up being a pile of spinach, a few strawberry slices, and the tiniest amount of feta cheese possible. OH AND IT COST NINE DOLLARS. It was a total ripoff, and totally not worth becoming the pizza night pariah. Lame.

I can’t be Lena Dunham’s body double anymore- I was all ready to dye my hair and everything, but the eight pounds overweight that she claims to be are eight pounds I don’t have anymore. And you never know, there may be a big roller skating scene on Girls where she needs a stand in cause maybe she can’t roller skate and I’ll be too skinny to be considered. This is clearly the biggest skinny girl problem of them all.

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Now it’s time for the necessary disclaimer that this is all (mostly) tongue in cheek. I’m loving my new skinny girl/healthy lifestyle and wouldn’t trade it for anything… except maybe losing eight more pounds. And a burger. Fingers crossed!

For more Skinny Girl Problems, click this link. I promise you won’t regret it.

PS- For the record, Lena Dunham has a hot bod. She is beautiful, and I’m not trying to imply otherwise. Hooray!