Resigning from the clean-plate club

I have a pretty effed-up relationship with food. I eat when I’m happy, I eat when I’m stressed, I eat when I’m sad — I just … eat.

I’d eat all the live long day if I could, if I’m being completely honest, and, for more years than I should even admit, I pretty much did. No matter how full or sick I felt from eating beyond what I healthily should, I still kept going (and going) and should have been the poster girl for the Clean-Plate Club.

While I’m not exactly sure when this food addiction started, I think the fact that my parents owned a restaurant until I was in my late teens might have played a role because, as you could imagine, food was ever-present at all times.

There was always so much to eat, especially at holidays, when we’d have to have a whole second table for just the food — even though we were a pretty small family.
(And of course I know I was very lucky to have had more than enough food at all times when so many do not.)

Unlike my brother, who adopted a very fit and active lifestyle at a fairly young age that he still subscribes to today, I never ate in moderation or exercised off my excess eating. Thus, I’ve battled my weight my entire life, except for the few rare times I worked out on the regular and ate a lot better by following a mostly vegetarian lifestyle.

Sticking a fork in my excessive eating

Eating, diet, exercise, #C25K, clean plate club, excessive eating, binge eating, food addiction

What was left on my plate when my stomach reached its limit today. A month ago, I would’ve kept going until it was all gone.

I knew when I started this newest journey of mine to get healthier and eat better that I had to stop my eating insanity once and for all.

I cannot tell a lie: It’s not been easy, in fact, I think it’s safe to say that for me, it might even be way more difficult than doing #C25K and going hitting the gym a few times a week.

While I am pretty happy with where my life is at right now, that doesn’t mean said life is without stress. In fact, there are a shit-ton of stressors I, like many people, deal with on a daily basis, but for the first time in my life, I am focusing on learning how to manage them without making food a factor.

It’s been a bit easy to add more fruit and veggies into my life as I’ve been mad-craving them, and I’ve adopted a weeknight “no eating after 9” rule, which has been preventing the late-night binges I’ve always fallen prey to. I’ve also become addicted to Special K blueberry with lemon clusters, which feeds my sweet and crunchy cravings with protein to keep me full, so that’s been helping a lot.

One of the biggest changes I’ve really made a priority is giving up my gold-plated lifetime membership card for the Clean-Plate Club. For the first time in my life, I’ve been listening to my body/stomach when it tells me “no mas” by putting my fork down and pushing my plate away.

It hit me today just how far I’ve come as I was eating some delicious coconut pancakes we ordered from our new favorite neighborhood diner. They were light, fluffy and super-coconutty, and I got about halfway through my share of one-and-a-half when my limit hit me like a ton of bricks.

I put the bite I was about to shove in my mouth hole down and put my plate in the kitchen. Just one month ago, I would’ve kept plowing through the entire plate until it was practically licked clean.

I’m not asking for a trophy, because I don’t think I deserve one and I know how far I still have to go, but I’ve always had a thing for those gold foil star stickers elementary school teachers are so fond of …

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Breaking old patterns + returning to an old fitness friend

When it comes to working out, I’m a quitter. Perhaps that’s something you may have picked up on since I literally went years without writing on this here blog.

I’m the type of person who can get really into a routine of exercise, only to allow myself to be derailed by pretty much anything. Stressful week at work? Skip the gym, and eat that bag of chips! Pissed at my commute/loud AF neighbors/etc? Don’t work out — eat your anger! Feeling sick? Curl up on the couch and say goodbye to the gym forever!

As I’m not getting any younger, I’m really — like really really — trying to break that pattern this time around, especially now that I’ve made a commitment to #C25K.

Speaking of, I had a really shitty #C25K workout Thursday morning, when I started Week 2. I hadn’t been sleeping well all week and was feeling sore and achy as New York had seen nothing but rain for days on end. My body felt like lead, and I really struggled with the extra 30 seconds of running time.

When I got off the treadmill half an hour later a hot, sweaty mess, I told myself that while I didn’t make it through every full 1:30 run time, what mattered is that I kept going — and that I needed to keep going to the next workout.

But even as proud of myself as I was for actually sticking with the whole #C25K workout, I avoided the gym the next two days as I fought feelings of discouragement brought on that day’s bad workout.

Revisiting Winsor palace again

With Kona, though, it’s not like I can be the gym-avoiding couch potato I once was, so I went on tons of walks with her in the interim, and the fella and I took a huge walk home from dinner in Astoria last night. We followed that up with her night walk, and I started my Sunday with a hot and slow long walk with her as well.

After I brought Kona home, I put my gym sneakers on and took myself downstairs, where I had a truly great #C25K training workout. It’s like my body needed those few days of nothing more than pup walks recharge and be ready to, well, run.

Since it was the second of Week 2, there were four minute-and- a-half running sessions followed by two one-minutes, and unlike the first workout, I did them all! Please, please, hold your applause.

Not only did I not feel like lead or too wiped out, I felt so good and amped up on endorphins that I actually wanted to do a little more. So I came back home and dug around on YouTube until I found the 20-minute Winsor Pilates workout I used to do on the reg when I lived in Pennsylvania.

winsor pilates

A clip from the 20-minute Winsor Pilates workout. (YouTube)

While I am so not as flexible as I used to be, the familiar poses and stretches felt almost as good as the sheen of sweat and accomplishment that covered me by the time I was done.

I’m so glad that I found the workout because the magic of Mari Winsor really helped keep me limber and toned before I let myself go all those years ago.

In fact, as I was feeling sore and achy last week because of the weather and my previous workouts, I had, without even realizing it, turned to two Winsor Pilates moves — the saw and spine stretch forward — to stretch myself out.

As I used to have a big folder of exercises I ripped out of magazines that I used to rotate between, I couldn’t remember where I had learned the two moves until I became reacquainted with them today.

It must’ve been a sign from Mari that I needed to return to my old standby!

Why I switched from Fitbit to the Apple Watch

During my last stint of blogging here on “Run, Nikki, Run,” I frequently wrote about how much I loved my Fitbit.

In the two years I used the Fitbit Flex, I logged nearly 6.7 million steps and more than 3,000 miles on the device, from sauntering the streets of New York City to climbing the cliffs of Inishmore on Ireland’s Aran Islands.

When my Fitbit, as any other device these days do, fell prey to daily wear-and-tear and syncing and tracking issues, the fella suggested the Apple Watch. He had jumped ship to it a few months before after becoming frustrated with frequent issues with his own Fitbit and would not stop raving about the product.

Despite being a longtime iPhone user who loves the convenience of connectivity between Apple products, I was not easily sold. It had taken me quite some time to get used to wearing the Fitbit on my wrist, and as someone who has always hated wearing a watch, I didn’t think I would stick with it even if I spent all that money on the device. I figured I’d leave it abandoned in a drawer with all those previous attempts at getting fit.

Well, fast-forward almost two years to today, and I not only absolutely love my Apple Watch, I pretty much live my entire life by it.

apple_watch_vs_fitbit_

Here’s what I love about my Apple Watch

  • The Activity app

The Apple Watch Activity app automatically tracks how much you move, exercise and stand daily. The red move ring tracks the active calories you’re burning, while the green exercise ring shows how much “brisk activity” you’ve done. The blue stand ring monitors the hours you’ve stood and moved for a least one minute, so you’re not just staying sloth-like on the couch binging your latest streaming addiction.

There is such a sense of accomplishment when I close all three rings or, on particularly active days, double my move and exercise, which has been happening even more frequently since I’ve been hitting the gym that past few weeks.

  • Friendly competition

The friendly — and the not-so-friendly — competition the fella and I had to outdo each other using our Fitbit has carried over to the Apple Watch. It’s super-easy to share your Activity with family and friends who have the device for motivation — and challenges. You can even send a message of encouragement or smack-talking, if you’re so inclined, right from the watch, so bring it, I say!

  • Breathing reminders

Throughout the day, the Apple Watch gives you periodic reminders, whose frequency you can change to suit your needs, to take a minute — just one single minute — to stop what you’re doing and focus on breathing. If you choose to accept the notification, the watch will pulsate as you inhale, exhale and find your center, which is so very important to do a few times a day in the humble opinion of this journalist living and writing in and about today’s … climate.

  • The littlest iPhone

Thanks to Apple’s connectivity, the watch is basically an extension of your iPhone as many of the its functions like texts, calls, emails, apps and more are accessible on the Apple Watch. That means you can stay in the group message loop, get score updates from your favorite team or not miss a single message from that special someone without looking at your phone in that meeting or other place pulling out your phone would be rude. After all, you’re just checking the time. Wink.

I’m back — and starting #C25K

Welp, it’s been a hot minute — or more than 1.6 million of them if we’re being technical — since I last blogged on this site in late 2015.

A lot has changed in the past three years, yet many things have remained the same, namely my struggles with my weight and my desire to get healthy and fit continuing to be underminded by my addiction to food.

I think those are wars I’m always going to wage within myself, but now, at 41, I realize the importance of running into them full stop with my battleax aloft as a show of strength and warning that the status quo is no longer a welcome guest.

So what makes this time different?

The fella and I became empty nesters when the Girl Child moved out after starting college, so we moved from Harlem to Roosevelt Island, a wonderful suburb-within-the-city with — are you sitting down for this? — our pit bull rescue Kona, who we adopted nearly a year ago.

Roosevelt Island has great views of Manhattan and is two miles of plentiful greenspace that we love exploring with Kona, who has kept me from entering the complete sloth mode I used to dive into after work and on weekends.

But walking a dog, especially one who must stop and sniff as much as our Kona, does not make for a lot of fat-burning opportunities. So last week, I finally paid a visit to the free gym in our building and am happy to report that I’ve gone five times since last Saturday.

Enter #C25K

After using mostly the treadmill for fast-paced walks with a handful of jogging bursts, today I started the #C25K plan on the 5K Runner app.

The app aims to have users go from 0 to a 5K — or from the “couch to 5K,” hence #C25K — in just eight weeks using the app for 30 minutes a day, three days a week.

While it might sound almost too-good-to-be-true, more than 4.2 million people have shared their success stories using the app, which also has a 4.9 star rating in the Apple App Store.

Among them is the fella, a former marathoner, who used 5K Runner soon after having bariatric surgery in the fall of 2016.

The app breaks up the workouts into intervals of running and walking. Since today was my very first time, the workout consisted of running for one minute then walking 1.5 minutes for a total of 15 minutes. There is also a five-minute warm up and a five-minute cool down to make for a 25 minute total workout.

Over the course of the eight weeks, the running times will increase, preparing me for, you guess it, a 5K.

As a way to hold myself accountable, I intend to blog my progress with the #C25K program right here on Run, Nikki, Run, and detail my quest to eat healthy among other things.

I’ll also be documenting my journey on Instagram, where you can find me as @nikkimmascali, if you’re so inclined.

I shared a photo of my disgustingly sweaty shirt from day one today and am astounded by the support and encouragement I’ve already received from friends and strangers alike.

Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 4.15.51 PM

I can’t wait to see what sort of self transformation unfolds over the next eight weeks — and beyond — and hope you come along for the journey.

Best,
Nikki

An 8 to celebrate

“You’ve lost weight,” the fella commented after hugging me when he got home from work the other night.

I scoffed, having been on the tail-end of one of those “fat days” when I just wasn’t feeling the outfit I chose to wear to work that morning.
Can you relate to a day like that, when your clothes just don’t feel comfortable, so you’re constantly tugging at them? Ugh. 

“Obviously you know you have,” the fella said, rolling his eyes before reminding me that I’d told him a few days before that my jeans were starting to feel baggy.

To find out for sure, I hopped on the scale the next day and saw that I’d dropped eight pounds since mid-August when I started this latest “eat-better-and-walk-more” regime.

But I cannot tell a lie. The new regime was one part me knowing I needed to make a change, especially after my summer of inactivity due to the endless heatwave we had … and one part my doctor telling me a few weeks back that I am pre-diabetic because of my weight.

It certainly didn’t come as a shock, especially since my grandmother had severe diabetes and both of my parents were diagnosed with it late in life. I knew it was coming; it had to, considering my eating habits and lifestyle, but hearing the doctor say it was quite the wake-up call.
Funny how those things work, hmm? 

I promptly made an appointment with a nutritionist he recommended, and put many of her suggestions into practices ASAP. And it seems to be paying off, according to Mr. Scale.

Plus, I’ve been getting off at a different subway station most days instead of the one at the end of my work block just to get in an extra walk and aiming for an even further station after work, so that’s been a big help, too, in ensuring that I’m meeting my daily step goal.

In fact, adding that little effort paid off big time as I won this week’s Workweek Challenge on Fitbit, my first win of this particular challenge in quite some time.

workweek

It was such a good feeling … one that was almost as good as seeing those eight pounds not on the scale.

Nikki

The reigning Weekend Warrior

For the past few weeks, I’ve been joining every Workweek Hustle and Weekend Warrior Fitbit challenge I’ve been invited to as a means to start making up for my Summer of Inactivity.

At first, just as I knew I would be as my body got used to walking frequently again, I was regularly in the bottom percentile of the challenges, especially the Workweek Hustle as I’ve been working from home the past two months.

While it was tough not really being a true contender as I’ve slowly (oh-so slowly) been getting back into walking, I’ve finally made enough strides (pun intended!) to finally win my first challenge in a long, long time, this past weekend’s Weekend Warrior with 29,028 steps.

weekend warrior

I’d like to thank the late-night walk the fella and I took from 42nd Street through Central Park up to 110th Street Saturday night. It had been so long since we’ve been on one of our “bender walks” as I like to call them, and it felt so good being out in the finally-cool air in the almost-deserted park, where we could walk at our own pace and not worry about having to dodge slow walkers or sudden stoppers or walking texters.

The great thing about these challenges is that you get updates whenever someone is close to you or passes you, and I found that this weekend’s notifications really pushed me to move more than I wanted to yesterday, despite being super sore from Saturday’s jaunt. I was thisclose to winning, and I didn’t want to give up my lead for anything, so after getting home from my walk to the store, I did laps around the house while the fella watched TV and danced around the kitchen as we made dinner and by golly, it worked!

And this morning, I met a friend who was in town for the day, so we walked from her hotel on 39th Street to Central Park with her two little girls, and I met my 10K step goal by noon as we walked back, which was a great feeling, especially on such a gorgeous day as it was today.
Never mind that the second I’m done with this blog post, I’m probably going to crash on the couch until the fam gets home.

And I plan to walk tomorrow and the next day and the next day and … because just because you’re a Weekend Warrior doesn’t mean you can’t be a warrior on the weekdays, too, challenge or no challenge.

Nikki

Walking with Gojira

Despite not moving my ass (or my legs, for that matter) this summer, I somehow walked enough to earn another one of Fitbit’s super-cute badges, and this one, the Japan badge, is, hands down, my favorite.

I mean, just LOOK at it:

japan badge

I love love love all things Godzilla, or Gojira as I like to say because that’s how the fantastic green monster is known in Japan. I wish this was a tangible badge because I would wear it proudly every dang day. And those of you who know me know that is totally true.

Anyhoo, I got this badge yesterday because I’ve now walked 1,869 total miles — equivalent to the full length of Japan — with my trusty ole Fitbit.

I’ve taken a few quick little walks and one big one since I wrote about my summer of inactivity, and we recently rearranged our living room and bedroom so I now have better space to use my Air Climber on those days when going out into the Sahara-like temperatures of Manhattan just aren’t going to happen, which seems like it might be just about every day as this heatwave just. will. not. let. up. Heard tell we might just go straight from sweltering to frozen this year, and I totally believe it.

I’d be OK with that, though — I love bundling up and walking on cold (and blessedly empty!) sidewalks, so the sooner that happens, the better if you ask me.

Nikki

My summer of inactivity

(Pinterrist photo)

(Pinterest photo)

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but it just sorta happened, “it” being my summer of inactivity.

I know it’ll sound like a cop-out, and it probably most definitely is, but, man, I just could not handle the astronomical heat we had this summer in New York City.

I remember last summer being hot as F as well, but still the fella and I did go chasing pavement all the same, but this year? No way, Jose. That pavement seemed to be made of solid lava this summer, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

There were very few times I walked from Wall Street up Broadway to the fella’s office just below Houston, and that dedication to take lengthy walks all around Manhattan and Central Park of yore must’ve melted out in all our sweat just from walking to and fro the subway stations.

Then I started having some health issues, and soon after, the fella hurt his foot and was ordered to stay off it as much as possible, so off came his Fitbit. And thus we entered our Couch Potato Phase. There’ve even been days where I didn’t put my own Fitbit on, and I hate myself for that.

My Fitbit has been such a dear friend and motivator for more than a year now, and I just cast it aside like a jerk, like someone who fell off the wagon. I stopped checking my daily step count, stopped joining challenges and began eating even crappier than usual and, when I started to notice the not-for-the-better changes in my body, temperament and health, I stupidly wondered why I was feeling and looking this way.

Oh, it’s because of my summer of inactivity.
Oh, it’s because I’m weak and without willpower.
Oh, it’s because I hate — like really, really hate — being hot and sweaty.

But I can’t wait it out until fall’s cool, crisp air descends upon the city, which is maybe what I subconsciously was doing. No, I am not that kind of person, nor do I have that kind of body/metabolism to take even a few days off from doing some sort of physical activity. I have too damn far to go, and I know I don’t deserve a respite because I don’t take care of the body I have been given.

So this week, the Fitbit got charged for the first time in weeks and out the door I went. While I didn’t break 10,000 steps on the two big walks I took (nor have I broken 10k since July 16, shame on me), being out in my city again felt good. Sweaty and miserable, of course, but good; good to feel that hot, hot sun on my face and arms, good to breathe fresh air, good to get out of my head in a way that only walking allows me to be.

My body almost didn’t know what to do, so I had some aches and pains, but I pushed through them and felt proud of myself for finally deciding to stand up to my laziness and get moving.

Today, I took a deep breath and got back on the scale (that I almost wrote was a bitch, but it’s not her fault, its mine) to see just how far I’ve fallen off the wagon and was shocked — but happy! — to see I’ve “only” gained two pounds since I last weighed myself in April.

I’ve started picking up some more fresh fruits and veggies on my past few trips to the store and have been making a conscious effort to hit them up first when I feel a crave coming on. Plus, we have a coupon for Blue Apron meal-delivery service that we’re going to cash in next week that will give us a free week of meals, so I’m looking forward to the healthy and yummy-sounding options that’ll provide, which I’ll be sure to write about once we start.

Even after only two days of walking, which don’t even come close to the lengthy constitutionals I used to take on the reg, I see such a difference in my mood. So, yeah, you’re way past your sell-by date, summer of inactivity. Be gone with you!

Nikki

Oh, Hello, Great Barrier Reef — and The Next 40

No, I’m not writing this blog (my first on this site in more months than I care to admit) aboard a boat off the northeast coast of Australia (though, of course, I wish I were!).

Instead, I’m hunkered down in front of the AC in my New York apartment excited to report that I just received my latest — and best — Fitbit badge, the Great Barrier Reef badge.

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My best Fitbit badge yet!

 

Since strapping on my Fitbit exactly one year ago this week, I’ve now walked 1,600 miles with it, which is the length of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system.

You’d think I’d be a skinny Minnie by now what with all that walking, but alas I’m not. Alas I’m still struggling with the whole eating-healthy thing. Alas, that’s why you’ve not heard a peep from me on this blog since January.

But as I am nearly two years out from the big 4-0, I know I need to make some changes — and how — before the diabetes that runs in my family takes me over as it did my parents in their later years, before my body gives out and can’t walk another 1,600 miles, before it’s too late to be the captain of my ship (even though I know I’ve been doing a shitty job of captaining thus far).

I see my mom in so much pain and poor health, just as her mom was before her, that I’m going to be in big, big trouble if I don’t do this for real starting now.

I’m going to transition Run, Nikki, Run into something more suitable to the Nikki that I am and the one that’s on the horizon because, let’s face it, this Nikki is never going to be a runner. Maybe a jogger with a soft J on occasion, but a runner, nope.

yogging

But I will tell you that before I turn 40 in 2017, I will be healthier and happier because of it — I’ll stay that way through The Next 40, which I just changed the name of this blog (but not the URL) to.

Join me on this journey, won’t you?

Nikki

Killing my Nikes and other thoughts on resolutions

I know, I know.
“Here she comes out of the woodwork with the rest of the bandwagon resolution makers.” 
Well, kinda, but not really.

I’ve changed, you see, since I last wrote back in September and even more so since my last annual resolutions post a year ago today. You see, I feel like I’ve finally come into who I am in, like, who I really am.

I’m never going to be 17-year-old Nikki ever again.
Nope, I’ll never be the 130-pound Nikki who wore her super-long, super-curly hair on top of her head in a big fat bun all the time.

The hair doesn’t grow as fast, and the weight, well, it doesn’t come off so fast these days, and while there will, I’m sure, always be part of me who’ll yearn to be the size of that skinny and sparkling teenager again with that fabulous hair, the Nikki I am today, 20 years later isn’t half bad, even though she has some — OK, a lot — of extra baggage.

But luckily, I have a fella and a family that loves me, just as I am. And I’ve finally realized that that’s enough.

Oh, Mr. Darcy. Le sigh. (Credit)

Oh, Mr. Darcy. Le sigh. (Credit)

But, having said that, that doesn’t mean I’m going to just rest on my laurels until I have to be moved out of our fabulous apartment by a forklift amid the rustling of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrappers and takeout burger-and-fry containers from our corner bodega. No. Oh, no, no, no.

You see, I’m still going to try and be healthy not just because I need to or because I should. No. I’m going to still pull on those workout clothes or, even if I’ve had a hellishly busy day, I’m still going to walk from my office to the fella’s after work most nights because I want to.

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I know I won’t be able to wear you for a few weeks, but your days are numbered, Nikes.

I want to kill my new Tiffany-blue Nikes, you see. I want them to smell and rip and tear just like my beloved purple Reeboks did this year because then I’ll know, I’ll really, really know, that I moved. That I made the New York pavement and wherever else these sneakers will tread upon this year my bitch. That I breathed and lived and walked and was happy.

Those Reeboks took me all around this island of Manhattan, on the country roads of Northeastern Pennsylvania, to Ireland and everywhere in between. By the end of the 2014, I had walked more than 950 miles with my Fitbit, plus another 400-plus miles using Map My Walk before I started using the Fitbit, so I think it’s safe to say that these feet of mine walked at least 1,400 miles in ’14. Wow. Wow.

My favorite moment of 2014 was actually almost an entire day. A day that was just a moment in a year’s worth of days, but when I was in it, basking in the sunshine, in the fresh blend of Irish air mixed with an Atlantic breeze with my family, I knew that this was the moment that would define my entire year, define my very existence.

Standing in the middle of a country lane on the Aran Island of Inishmore that was buzzing with crazy tour-bus drivers, polite bikers (who could teach New York bikers a thing or 10) and more cows than tourists like us as my family and I took photos and reveled in beauty the likes of which I’d never seen before, I knew that as long as I had the fella and my family beside me and comfortable sneakers on my feet, that’s all I’d really need in this world — to make the best of this world.

So, that’s my resolution: Walk. Live. Breathe. Take it all in. Exist. Kill my Nikes … and any other pair of sneakers that may follow.

Nikki