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.

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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.

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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