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!

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.


Running with the devil

I did it! We did it!

Yesterday, the fella and I had to take our walk during the day since we had plans with friends last night and knew that our nocturnal walking (our prefered time what with this summer’s record temps … and maybe because we’re vampires …) would most likely not end up happening.

We had been talking on the way to the levee where we like to get our walk on about how, since we’ve been doing this a while (both when we’re together and when we’re apart), that maybe it’s time to kick it up to the next level. So me, being the brave soul that I am who’s trying to continue her momentum and push herself to new heights, said I was ready to give running longer than a minute a try again, so the fella suggested that we walk .25, run .25 for the duration of our four-mile trek.
On a day that was 90 degrees, humid and sunny, by the way.

We started walking, and when we hit .25, we started jogging side by side. I loved that we were doing it together, our feet hitting the pavement with the same cadence, or so I think because after about 30 seconds, all I could hear was the pounding of what must have been my dying heart in my chest and my lungs gasping for what surely was their last breath.

I quit the first round before the halfway mark, croaking for the fella to continue on, that I’d catch up when he stopped. We did that cat-and-mouse game for most of the walk, and though I never did finish a full .25, I came thisclose – which is that much closer to my goal.

I guess I could say I had a good Satanday workout … get it? Get it?

Sure, I’m embarrassed as all get out that he had to see me wuss out like five times, but he was so very encouraging – and inspiring. I was jealous to see him, in the perfect form he’s had since his high-school track-star days striding ahead of me like a champion without stopping because it’s just second nature for him, but I’d catch my breath, and force myself to go on, to cross the next .25 marker jogging, not walking.

It was a great walk/run, and by the end of it all, I actually ended up running a total of one full mile, which I am so proud of.
The fella logged a 1.25 mile run and was never so far ahead of my walking that he had to wait very long for me to catch up. So I guess I’m not a total wuss, right?? 

After we got in the car and waited for the AC to wash over us like the showers we so desperately needed, I plugged my info into My Fitness Pal and found out that my interval excursion blasted exactly 666 calories.

I’ll raise a devil horn to that!


Early bird gets the … workout

So someone was at the gym at 5:55 this morning … and … what?
There were … other people there? And there were actually a lot of other people?
Who are these freaks??

Well, this morning, I became one them there freaks because I knew I wouldn’t be able to work out tonight or tomorrow after work, so I last night I thought to just be proactive and get there this morning.
It’s not like I sleep well anyway, so I might as well take advantage of that blasted insomnia.

Sure, it pretty much sucked driving in darkness to my brightly lit Planet Fitness, but once I finished my five-minute warmup on the treadmill and did 15 minutes of walking/jogging, that circuit room was looking mighty attainable, and for the second time this week, I made it my bitch – and I think it enjoyed it almost as much as I did.


HIITing the gym again

Since I wrote this on Feb. 23, I’ve not seen the inside of my Planet Fitness until tonight after work.
Hey, it’s better than the six-month lapse before that date, yes?? 

I’ve had all these grandiose plans of exercising at home in the morning and hitting the gym post work (that has pretty much been my plan from the moment I started joining gyms many moons ago), but as you know, that never goes according to plan.

I hate exercising after work, I’m usually too damn exhausted, hence why I shine as an a.m. exerciser – and the gym is close, but not close enough to run there before work, come home to shower, etc. then head to work.
Yes, I am one of those people who cannot shower in public. It is what it is.

But today, I packed my gym bag and ordered myself to go – and I’m so very glad I did because I finally did some HIIT (high-intensity interval training) that I’d read about in a recent SELF, and it really felt good.
If you’re not familiar, HIIT involves bursts of high-intensity movement (in my case, running on the treadmill for two minutes, speed(ish) walking for two minutes, repeat). It’s supposed to improve fat burning and is great for short-on-time workouts. 

After I did that for 25 minutes, I was going to skulk out as I most often do (when I go, of course), but decided against it and headed to Planet Fitness’ circuit room.
I’d entered there before, but always got self-conscious around other people and did a few of the 10 machines and, yes, skulked out.

Today, I said , “Screw it, no time like the present!,” and the second that light turned green, I started stepping at the first stop … and kept up with every single stop after until I hit No. 20, where my body was pretty much begging for mercy – which was a truly fantastic feeling.

What a great workout! I was there for about an hour, and it went so fast. What the hell was I so afraid of? Feeling better about myself? Maybe finally kicking myself up a notch and actually – GASP – enjoying a workout that wasn’t in the comfort of my own home?

Oh, silly, silly Nikki.
It’s just a room with exercise equipment.

So tell me, have you tried HIIT? Do you have any advice for me?


Putting the ‘run’ back in ‘Run, Nikki, Run’

Lately, I’ve become very inspired by the Girl Child. She runs track at her middle school and recently decided that she wanted to tackle the mile, after doing really well at some of the other races.

Her father, aka The Fella (obviously), was a cross-country star when he was in high school, and the GC asked for him to start really training her this season. Over Easter break, he took her to his old running course out on Long Island (one of the best in the state, heard tell), and had her running on the beach, and today, her first track meet after all that running, she did great.

Yesterday, we took her to the track near our house, and as he continued to coach her and have her do drills, I set off to walk in lane 3, offering the GC bits of encouragement as she passed me and wistfully watched her run, wishing I could hold a pace like she does, instead of huffing and puffing for the rest of a lap after doing a measly 100.

Hers + his

I asked the fella what he would suggest I do as someone who desperately wants to get back into running.

“Jog a lap, walk a lap,” he replied, simply.
“I can’t do an entire lap,” I protested. “I can barely do the 100!”
“You’ve got to push yourself or what’s the point,” he retorted.
Touche, though he did get a snarky look in lieu of a reply.

So today, after getting back from the meet while it was still light out, I set out to the track, determined to run. Or jog, as it were.
To quote my beloved “Anchorman:” “I believe it’s jogging or yogging. it might be a soft j. I’m not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild.”

I warmed up by walking to the track, and as soon as I hit the starting line, I started to “yog.” I wish I could say I jogged the whole lap, but I didn’t. But on most of my six laps, I did two bursts, including four 100s, and on one lap, did three bursts.

I was embarrassed by my incessant huffing and puffing, but carried on. I did get less huffy each time I did it – and know that the next time will get even less and so on and so forth. After four laps, though I could (in my mind) admirably quit for the day and walk home, I continued on for two more.
“You’ve got to push yourself or what’s the point,” said a wise man once.

Now that I’ve cooled down and showered, I feel great – tired, of course – but great. Alive. Limber. Ready to run again.
And after all, isn’t that the point of this here blog?? 


Pretty ‘sneaky’

I took the first of many steps in getting myself to a fitter, happier place when I bought these snazzy Sauconys Saturday.

My new Saucony Women's Grid Cohesion 4 sneakers. I plan to put a lot of miles on these babies!

They were the first pair of exercise sneakers I’ve bought in probably five years, and when I put these babies on, I could totally feel the difference in an instant from my old and tired Sauconys.  I was instantly inspired to move in them and couldn’t wait to put them on this morning for my walk/jog. I plan on putting them to the test at boot camp tonight.

What is your tried-and-true exercise shoe?


Day 3

Forgive me for sounding whiney, but since my shins have been hurting since Day 1’s interval jaunt, I didn’t do any today, but I still went for a slightly brisk walk this morning.

I know I’ve got to take my time with running and intervals.
It’s hard because my mind is saying, “Go, go, go!!,” but my body is trying to get used to this foreign feeling of being sore and actually moving once again.

Just one year ago, I was really happy with myself because I was making exercise a true priority. I’d make sure to get to bed at a decent hour so I would be well-rested for my 6 a.m. wake up to fit in a workout before work.
I find that morning workouts work best for me, and if I have time and energy to fit another one in post work, that’s just an added bonus.

Just one year ago, I was conscious of my diet, loosely following the Weight Watchers plan on my own, incorporating its recipes and frozen food into my daily life while still enjoying everything this foodie loves – within reason.

Then this foodie become unhinged as I ate anything and everything and stopped making time for exercise. Slowly, the scale creeped up, up and away to a place I vowed never to be again.
As unhappy and disappointed as I have become with my body, I’ve never been happier personally, so I guess one out of two ain’t so bad … but I digress.

I’m trying not to beat myself up for having a less-than-stellar Days 2 and 3, because at least I didn’t hit snooze, roll over  and say, “I’ll get back on track tomorrow” as I’ve done the past few months.

At least I’m moving.
At least I’d rededicating myself.
It may take me a little longer to get back on track, but I’m at least doing something.


Day 1

Well, the alarm went off this morning, and against my body saying, “Please don’t make me get up,” I stretched, did some crunches and hit the streets.

While it was slow going – and the first time I’ve really exercised in weeks (as the scale definitely validated this morning) – and I might be tired and a little sore today, I felt good.

I may not have gone far – and only did four interval bursts. For those, I jog the distance of a few phone poles and gradually increase the number of  phone poles I count.

It wasn’t a stellar start, but I wasn’t expecting it to be.

The point is I exercised.
I did a few intervals.
I got some fresh air.
I started to climb back up on the wagon of the person I want to be.


So I want to be a runner

Or at the very least, a jogger.

Hello, my name is Nikki.

Every year, I make too many resolutions and, as a result, I usually don’t stick to them.
There have been those weird, strange years when I did follow through, like when I resolved to get a part-time job or keep track of my writing and exercising …

For 2011, instead of hitting up the old chestnut resolutions to save money, lose more weight, be kinder and gentler, blah blah blah, this year, this year I decided to Fall In Love With Running.

Given my body type, love of food and crazy schedule/life, this will be no easy feat.

But I’ve done it before.
Many moons ago, about seven or eight years at least, I once fancied myself a runner.
For a time, I loved it because it really helped me get in shape quickly and healthily, but then I loved it for the rush.

I’d go to bed excited to set the alarm for 5 a.m.
I’d bound out of bed a few minutes before the alarm went off and take a turn around my former neighborhood under the cloak of the near morning before heading to work.

This went on almost every day for months.
It was a great feeling.
Sometimes I’d even wake up in the middle of the night, turn on my bedside lamp and marvel at my legs because they were toned for the very first time in my life and then fall back to sleep.

I got sick and couldn’t exercise for a few weeks, and that was the end of Nikki the Runner/Jogger.

Ever since, whenever I’d see anyone out on a run, I’d gaze at them wistfully, wishing to be that person again.

I want to be that person again.
I am determined to be that person again.
I want to be someone who goes for a jog and who betters her health – and her mind.

This blog will be my journey back into the world of running; I will use it as a way to track my progress, and, realistically, the failures I am sure to have.

I’m ready to ready, set, go.
I hope you’ll come along for the ride, er, run and offer your tips, encouragement and insight into how I can best make this lifestyle change.