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

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.

2015-01-03 14.54.52

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

Walking California (almost)

On May 26, I started using my Fitbit. And now, four months later, like, just four months later, I hit a huge milestone with this fantastic fitness gadget.

Fit Bit 750 miles

I’ve walked 750 miles — in four months.
That’s just 50 miles short of the length of California.

And oh, what wonderful miles they were, through the streets of New York, the beautiful landscapes of Ireland and anywhere and everywhere in between. The soles of my Reeboks have worn away, same thing for the gray Skechers GoWalk I usually wore to and from work during the week; the latter are now retired and replaced by an obnoxious neon yellow pair, while I’m in desperate need of replacing the Reebok RealFlexes I fell in love with two years ago and am on my second pair of.

Now, had I been eating the way I should, or the way I did when I lost 20-plus pounds earlier this year, I should probably be skin and bones right now. However, that wasn’t the case. I’ve been weak. Like, real, real weak. Luckily, though, with all this walking, and logging more than my required 10,000 steps a day, I’ve not gained anything, so at least there’s that.

But I can do better. I know I can. And, much more importantly, I know I have to, so I’m making a pact with myself to lose at least 10 pounds by Christmas. That’s 10 pounds in three months, which really is nothing, but it’s not too large a number to make me quit when the going (read: temptations) gets tough, as it oh-so-often does.

So, here’s to the next three months — and the next 750 miles. I have to walk back up California, you know!

Nikki

The first 250

On Friday, there was an alert in my in box from Fitbit that told me I’ve hit the 250-mile mark with the device, after having it for just under two months.

250 fitbit

Two-hundred and fifty miles in less than two months? Surely, that’s some kind of Superwoman record, right?

Well, that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself as I pat myself on the back. Here’s to the next 250!

Nikki

-20 and surviving a carb fest

I figured I would hop on the scale Friday before I headed home to visit my parents for the weekend. If I was down a bit, I’d keep that top of mind when I got to the place where food was always the sixth member of our family (after the parents, the brother, me and our beloved late Lab, Zakk).

I was pleasantly surprised to find I was down a full 20 pounds — it felt like it was a long time coming, but I’m glad I finally hit this major milestone. So excited by that number — and the fact that I was running extremely late to catch the 11 a.m. out of Port Authority — I didn’t have time to eat or grab a snack to take on the bus with me before I left the house.

Needless to say, by the time I got of the bus more than three hours later and after a grocery-store trip where we got about three bags full of carbs (think three different kinds of chips, two different kinds of pretzels, a loaf of bread, hamburger buns and this super-yummy baked oatmeal from the bakery department), I was famished. And bordering on hangry. So I opened one of the bag of pretzels and ate a few handfuls as I drove.

We picked up some Wendy’s salads, and I’m proud to say that my hunger didn’t force me to weaken and get the crispy chicken sandwich and fries I really wanted. I got a salad, and after I ate it when we got home, it just wasn’t hitting the spot. I went back to the pretzels I opened in the car. Then I dipped into the baked oatmeal. I went back to the pretzels and then I just felt sick. And ashamed of myself.

But that didn’t stop us from going out to a nice dinner later on that night. I had soup and ahi tuna, so my dinner wasn’t that bad, but I still felt awful, both because I knew I had eaten way, way too much and because I was severely disappointed in myself.

I woke up Saturday determined to be better. I decided to go for a walk, but since my folks live on a dirt road, and it had rained so it was all mud, I headed to the track at my old high school. I love walking on those rubbery tracks, but my God, they are so boring compared to walking the city streets or the woods surrounding my parents’ where I really wanted to walk, so after I hit the two-mile mark, I told myself I’d do another half mile and head home.

Just as I started the final two laps, a woman who had continually outpaced me — and I was walking “very brisk,” according to Map My Walk — passed me again, but this time she said hello and commented on how nice the day was so far. We started walking together and talking about walking, health and we even shared weight-loss tips with each other.

Before we knew it, we both exceeded our walking goals — by two and a half miles! It was great to have someone to pass the time with, and Denise and I exchanged numbers to continue sharing tips and walk the next time I’m back in Dallas. It was such a pleasant surprise, one that doesn’t really happen here in the city, where you just start chatting with a stranger.

I was so glad our walking paths crossed, and her pushing me to go those extra miles was instrumental in keeping me on the straight and narrow the rest of my time at home. Of course I ate Mom’s famous whimpies, but I only had one with a bun and just a small follow-up scoop of the meat, and when I still felt hungry, I had grilled chicken with spinach and balsamic. While I treated myself to some chips, I didn’t house most of the bag like I used to do.

I stayed pretty good on Sunday, and when I weighed myself Monday morning — just as a check up, not because I have an obsession with the scale — I had maintained Friday’s weight, which had always been unheard of after a weekend at home.

I knew going home to my parents, who used to own a restaurant and always had the best food around the house, would be a huge test to the willpower I’ve been building the past few months, but I daresay I passed with flying colors.

Now onto the next challenge, whatever that may be!

Nikki

 

Fighting with the scale

I have, quite literally, been walking my ass off the past few months.

My previous post about walking 25 miles over the course of a weekend, while I find it super impressive, is just part of what a normal week is for me. This week, for example, I’ve already exceeded 25 miles, and it’s only Thursday, and I’ll be putting on my Reeboks as soon as this post is done and logging another six or seven miles by the time I get home.

According to the first-quarter stat update from Map My Walk, I’ve already done 205 miles in 2014, and the e-mail said I’m “on track to hit 822” by yearend. I love a challenge, so I plan to raise that number by 178 to make it an even 1,000 miles at least.

Having said that and that fact that I’ve been walking my ass off and feeling my jeans get bigger and getting back into some of the clothes that have been shoved into the bottom of a drawer or the back of my closet, the scale has just been an unbudging SOB. In fact, it even went back up five pounds, which I know is a bold-faced lie because 1) I’m wearing those clothes that finally fit again, 2) I definitely see a difference in my face and stomach and 3) I am more often than not eating less than my caloric allowance because of all that damn walking, which is obviously a key to weight loss.

The scale has been giving me NO love lately. (Getty Images photo)

The scale has been giving me NO love lately. (Getty Images photo)

It’s been depressing me, to be honest, and the old me would’ve been derailed by my weekly (or multi-weekly, if I’m being completely honest) weigh-ins ten times over, so what the hell gives? I have never eaten so well, so clean and so good in my life — I mean, I am eating spinach and other veggies and fruits like it’s my damn job, we’ve pretty much cut out everything white and hardly eat a starch with dinner anymore. I actually crave all these good things on a daily basis, and even on the weekends, when we have our one lax day where we might, say, have an Irish breakfast for brunch or indulge in a burger or share a lemon gingerbread cookie at our favorite bakery, it’s usually after one of our mammoth walks so at the end of the day, I still have a ton of calories left over.

So yes, scale, I am having a pretty big beef with you right now. I’ve been chalking it up to the fact that it was the cheapest scale they had at the store when I bought it last year, but c’mon. It’s one of those stupid old non-digital ones, how could you not work properly? Especially after you showed me that 15-pound loss so lovingly just a few weeks back?

Last night, I finally confessed my depression about the whole thing to the fella, and he found it BS, too, saying he knows I’ve been losing because he sees it when he looks at me and knows how well I’ve been doing. He thought maybe it’s because it’s a cheapo scale and that maybe, since he was standing on one of the floorboards that creak in the house because it’s slightly raised, where I’m stepping on in the bedroom might be uneven or something.

With that in mind this morning, when I finally decided to hop back on (it’s been about a week since I last weighed myself because of this whole scale-hating episode), I moved the scale and voila, there was that lower needle that I’ve been looking for, thank the gods of weight loss!

In my years (and years) of trying to lose, I have always read in fitness magazines and on blogs that you should throw your scale out because of the very reason I’m about to mention as the reason I just can’t perform said action. Most women have been trained to think in numbers when it comes to weight, not just “going by how your clothes feel” like those blogs and magazine articles tell us to do.

It’s really hard for me to not track my progress with a scale, and I think that not having one when we first moved to New York, though it was not the sole catalyst for the weight gain I am now battling, I do regret not having one to check in on. I think seeing the number creep up might’ve helped get me in line a lot more than my tightening pants, which is stupid, I know, but I think some of you will agree with me that we sometimes come up with excuses like, “Oh, they were just washed,” and then come home with the button imprint embedded on our bellies.

So what about you? Are you a slave to a scale or a go-by-the-fit-of-my jeans kind of person? I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions!

Nikki

25 miles closer to who I want to be

Ever since I downloaded it, I have been obsessed with Map My Walk. I always knew that I covered a lot of ground walking around the city, but it’s pretty amazing to see just how much it all adds up to.

Take this weekend, for example. From Friday to Sunday, I walked a record (for me) 25 miles around this great island.

My 12-mile journey on Friday took me from 34th Street down to St. Mark’s and the Bowery, to the Village and SoHo, where I met up with the fella after work and we walked uptown on the West Side, stopping to eat before catching a train home at 59th Street. We laid low on Saturday, only logging one mile, when, since I cannot tell a lie, we walked to the neighborhood taco truck for dinner.
It is what it is.

The route of yesterday's 12-mile excursion.

The route of yesterday’s 12-mile excursion.

We more than made up for that yesterday, when we walked from 14th Street all the way home to 149th, which included wandering through Central Park, where we met up with the Girl Child at 81st Street. Thanks to zigzagging blocks here and there and walking through the park, we logged another 12 miles for the day.

It’s invigorating, really, to see how far I go and how my pace varies throughout the course of a walk, and I find it a great motivator to keep going, to best my last mile’s pace or get just one extra block in … which usually turns in to two or five or 10.

Next weekend, if the stupid weather cooperates, we’re planning on doing our biggest walk yet: The whole island of Manhattan, from Inwood down to Battery Park. It should be pretty easy because Manhattan is a little more than 13 miles, which is only one more mile than I’ve already done twice just this weekend.

And looking even further into our fitness future, we plan to add jogging into the mix and start taking part in some of the many 5Ks held in the city. Even if I can’t jog all or part of those races at first, I know I can make those 3.1 miles my bitch pretty easily, especially given the mileage I’ve accomplished this weekend — and this is just the beginning!

Nikki

-15

I hopped on the scale today and was extremely pleased to see the number down 15 pounds!

I’ve been working my tail off with exercising and eating right, and I love seeing it pay off like this.

I’ve continued to be super mindful of tracking my food in My Fitness Pal and all my movements in Map My Walk, and, thanks to the fella and I taking advantage of last weekend’s glorious 50-degree temps, we walked almost 17 miles on Saturday and Sunday combined. On Saturday, we found a new path along the Hudson that led us to The Little Red Lighthouse, and on Sunday, we walked from 43rd, through Central Park and home to 149th. Needless to say, I think my new purple Reeboks are officially broken in!

According to my weekly summary from MMW for March 3-March 9, I did 10 workouts for 8.2 hours, covered 23.5 miles and burned 5,405 calories. Not too shabby I daresay! I think when I’m down 30 pounds, I am going to start incorporating jogging as part of my walks to help ward off any plateaus and to, you know, start putting the “run” back into Run, Nikki, Run!

Hope you have a great Thursday — and an even better weekend!

Nikki

Beating weekend temptations

I find it so easy to be good during the week, especially when I’m in an office setting. But even working from home, I tend to make fairly healthy choices Monday through Friday while also managing to get in some lengthy walks or some time on the Air Climber.

But I’ve always struggled with the celebratory nature of weekends.
* At first, it was letting loose with my friends because, well, that’s just what you sometimes do on Fridays and Saturdays.
* Then it was finding weekend traditions with the fella and the Boy and Girl Childs.
* Then there was that year the fella and I did the long-distance thing and crammed all of our time together into two days.
* That was followed by our move to the city and two demanding and exhausting jobs and subway time that amounted into much, much more than 40-hours a week, so a lot of weekends were spent just trying to recharge ourselves inside our tiny railroad apartment that we didn’t get to see too much of during the week.
* After a year of that, we moved to a new place that had ample room for me to spread my exercise wings again, the GC moved in with us, I started freelancing, and the fella got a job he loves. Weekends became his time to be in the apartment we all love so much, but after being at home all week, I was itchy to get out and explore together instead of solo like I do during my off time during the week.

Sure, there were some struggles as I tried to let him have some couch time and he begrudgingly gave in when I’d start saying, “Let’s go for a walk! Wanna take a walk?” in the same voice I’d ask a dog.
You should know it’s also my Talking-to-Children voice.

Since starting this healthier lifestyle together, though, getting exercise in is just something that we now do on autopilot.

Take yesterday, for example. We needed groceries, but instead of just heading to the store four blocks away and coming back, we did a three-mile walk around our neighborhood. And up here in Harlem, that means we walked up more than a few steep hills. And on Saturday, we walked from the restaurant on 41st where we had dinner to our beloved bakery on Bleecker two-plus miles away to share our weekly treat, a lemon gingerbread cookie.

So today, when I stepped on the scale, for the first time in a really, really long time, my weight didn’t go up over the weekend. It stayed where it had been on Friday, and it was empowering. Of course, it would’ve been better if I’d lost weight over the weekend, but I’m not going to knock this maintain one little bit, especially given my indulgent weekends in the past. There will be time for that as we continue on this path.

We’re thinking our food through now, like only stealing a few fries from the kids instead of having our own plates at The Counter burger joint Saturday or making a killer meal of bacon-wrapped scallops and whole wheat pizza with spinach, olives and fresh mozzarella last night or savoring our nightly desserts.

Yes, they were both just as good as they look.

Yes, they were both just as good as they look.

I appreciate food so much more now that I’m not shoveling it in as fast as I can. I don’t eat as much, and it tastes so much better. My mom always accused me of “living to eat” instead of “eating to live,” and I own up to that. I love food, and I will always love food, but I think I’ve melded those two sayings into something good for me at last.

What about you? Do you “live to eat,” “eat to live” or a delicious combo of both like me? How do you survive weekend temptations?

Nikki