Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Getting there is half the battle

I'm currently sitting on a couch inside Boston Athletic Club waiting for Fit League to start. I arrived about half an hour early today, I think it must have been the lack of rain that threw my timing off (seriously, this is the first week it wasn't raining).

I spent all of today fighting snack urges, being tired, and having some back discomfort. I seriously contemplated not coming tonight. Just going home, putting on comfy clothes, relaxing and indulging myself.

I convinced myself that even if it's not a great workout tonight, even if I don't push myself as hard as I'd like to, so long as I'm there and moving I'll be happy.

Until I realized once I changed into my work out clothes that I'd forgotten my sports bra. With no time to run home and get it, I headed to TJ Maxx and Marshall's in Downtown Crossing to pick one up. Ugh what a pain.

But I'm here. Despite wanting to eat everything in sight on my way, despite not having a sports bra with me, despite being tired, I'm here.

Getting here was half the battle. Now for the other half: getting my butt kicked.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

So far, So good

I'm pretty proud of myself so far with Fit League. I've really dug deep and pushed hard each week so far. I haven't cried or quit. Not even a little.

That's not to say I haven't listened to my body when it says "take a little break, you can't breathe." But they're little breaks, and I don't feel like its giving up.

So far each week they give us a 15-20 minute warm up; running, crossovers, butt kicks, high knees, etc. Which was a little easier for me this week than the previous two weeks. And then they split the teams. For the remaining 40 minutes, half the time we're tested and half we're doing team drills that should help us with future tests and build up our strength and endurance.

Last weeks test was the number of squats you could do in 1 minute. And how many times you could run across the soccer field in 5 minutes. I got in about 25 squats and 8 field lengths. And this week we were tested to see how many pull ups (or alternatively, reverse rows) you could do in 1 minute, and how many box jumps in 1 minute. I couldn't even get to the pull up bar so I choose to do reverse rows with the rings, I accomplished 20 (which felt pretty good to me but what do I know?), and 27 box jumps.

The team drills are killer too. Last week we were doing some sprints, burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and walking lunge drills. Followed by some core exercises such as balancing on an exercise ball, walking yourself out and back on your hands; the idea being to hold yourself steady on the ball using core muscles. Once I got the hang of it, I didn't do as badly as I expected, in fact I didn't fall off the ball at all. And also doing push ups or planks while rolling a medicine ball between your hands. I do find that I'm better with the more strength based stuff than the running. I'm not good at running. Today we did more shuttle runs, increasing in length each time out. We also did this thing where we started in a plank, then walked our feet forward to meet our hands, then walked our hands back out to a plank. Wow those were pretty intense. In between sets of these we did versions of crunches, squats, and jumping jacks.

Something I need to work on:
  • Learning to not hold my breath and breathe properly
  • My cardio stamina 
I sweat a lot and am exhausted when I leave. And end up a little sore the next day. But it's good. And actually kind of fun (wait, who just said that?)

Though every time I walk down that long industrial road I still feel like I'm walking to impending death.

I saw the sign...

The beginning of the road.

Still going

Getting closer

Almost there
Finally the Boston Athletic Club

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Back in the beginning of December (2011), the owners of Davis Square's much loved Foundry On Elm opened a pre-prohibition style bar in their basement. Saloon is easy to miss as it doesn't have much signage, save for a small globe lamp with the word Saloon inscripted on it high above the heads of passersby. It is dimly lit with dark wood and leather trim furniture, every detail of the place feels old and takes you back to that place in time where cocktails were taken seriously. 
Photo from Saloon website: http://saloondavis.com/reviews.html
The first time I visited Saloon, a couple of months back, I fell in love with the feeling of the place. It feels like a secret hideaway, like a great place to spend a cold winter evening or a hot summer night with friends. Last night I dropped in spontaneously for my second visit, this time with Jessica, my roommate.

We were greeted by a friendly but kooky hostess who didn't make us feel guilty for wanting to check out the food menu before deciding to stay and who regaled us with hilarious stories about answering telemarketing calls.

Since they had just opened the seating world was our oyster and we choose two seats at the "U" shaped bar. We ordered some cocktails and decided to hold off on the food for a bit. The first round of cocktails were good, but not favorites for either of us (perhaps we both made the same mistake; not ordering brown liquors). My second drink of the night may have become my new favorite. I told the bartender that I wanted something crisp and refreshing, he suggested the Nay Sayer. Which turned out to be a bright green colored drink served on the rocks with muddled cucumber (hence the green color), wheatgrass, honey, whiskey, and ginger beer. Oh man. The flavors were well balanced, with the cucumber and ginger flavors at the forefront, it really was the definition of crisp and refreshing.

Once we realized we were in for the long haul, we decided to order some food. I had the Ploughmans Platter, which included a plentiful pile of sliced roasted ham, some cheddar cheese, pickled onions, a half of a hard boiled egg, pickles, a giant piece of delicious crusty bread, and a pot each of spicy brown mustard and a sweet relish. Jessica ordered the sliders which happened to come with bacon jam and OH MY GOODNESS that bacon jam was awesome! So awesome in fact that Jessica wrote a PSA about it.

After our food and after 3 cocktails, I convinced her to order the Ward 44. I couldn't help myself. I had heard so much about this cocktail made with pork belly infused whiskey that I had to taste it. Only problem being, I don't really love whiskey so I needed a good friend (ahem Jessica) to order it so I could just have a little taste. The cocktail included the aove mentioned pork belly infused whiskey, house grenadine, lemon and sugar. It was intense. Smokey bacon flavor mixed with a strong cherry flavor. It wasn't for me. And I don't think it was really her favorite either but she was a champ and took one of the team. Thanks friend!

The Ward 44
Overall, I can't wait to go back. I am already craving another Nay Sayer. My only complaint is that the service is a little underwhelming. Several times one of us sat with an empty drink even at the start of the night when they weren't busy. However, the bartenders were friendly and willing to offer (great) suggestions, and made darn good drinks, so that helped.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Share The Night

In the last 4 or so years I have grown to like beer. Quite a bit actually. 

I always thought I didn't like beer, until I learned that it was mostly that I was drinking crappy beer. After tasting a lot of beers at a beer fest, I learned what I did and didn't like. 

Over a period of time I started to branch out. And the more I branched, the more I liked. And now I like beer. A lot. I still like beers like wheat beers, I like IPA's, lagers, ales, stouts, porters, and fruity beers. I'm not too into pilsners, though at some times, some pilsners are darn good (saaaay... a Notch Session Pils on a hot summer day). 

I'm also really loving the local food movement. And think the increase of local craft breweries is really awesome. It's so inspiring to see people who started as craft brewers in small apartments like mine, with regular day jobs, start up their own brewing and distributing operation. 

More often than not, I choose a locally made beer option. And right now there are many great options in the Boston area. I recently sampled some Bee Tea by Night Shift Brewing at my local market, Pemberton. It was so unique that I knew I had to try their other beers. 

So when I noticed on their website yesterday that they had "Open Hours" at their Brewery in Everett from 3-10pm that night, I thought, I totally want to check that out. I tweeted them asking if a tour and some samples were possible; and being the customer friendly, generous people they are they basically said "heck yes come by for a tour and tasting." 

We showed up around 7pm. Making our way into this weird industrial like area in Everett, seeing the Night Shift Brewery signs we knew we were in the right place. The brewery door was open, a few of the guys were hanging around the wooden bar decorated with awesome owl sculptures and pictures. 

As we entered, I introduced myself as the person who had tweeted them earlier about coming in for a tour. So started our tour of their one room operation. As a handful of people around us worked hard brewing beer and cleaning the brewery, we were shown all around. Everything from the tanks, to the fermentation, and the carbonation process, down to the bottling (2 at a time, and then hand labelled and numbered). 

Finally we ended back at the bar where we sampled their 4 beers. Trifecta, a Belgian Style Pale Ale, just hoppy enough, not overpoweringly strong, and some undertones of fruit & citrus. Bee Tea, a Belgian style wheat ale brewed with honey and green tea, very complex with hints of orange and honey and a very earthy tasting finish. Taza Stout, a stout brewed with chicory root and ginger, and aged over Taza chocolate nibs, an almost warm, comforting stout. And finally, the Viva Habanero, released on Cinco De Mayo, a rye beer with agave nectar and aged over habanero peppers, an interesting beer with a real spice on the back end. 

Personally, I find their beers easy to drink and delicious. The Viva Habanero is the only one I wouldn't be able to drink a lot of; but I can totally see myself drinking it with some tacos or nachos, or possibly just sitting on my porch in the summer. 

We left with two pint bottles of beer; unfortunately they didn't have any Bee Tea for us to take home, but they did have two Taza Stouts. I can't wait to drink my stout, and to share these great beers with friends in Boston, and beyond (maybe Philadelphia, where a couple of the brewers happen to be from).

They were seriously great hosts, so if you have time and the desire, check out their open hours. See their operation, hear their amazing history, and try some beers. 

Thanks Night Shift Brewing! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fit League Kicked My Butt

So Fit League.

Let's start with the fact that I didn't exactly know where Boston Athletic Club was (do you?). I accidentally got off the bus one stop too late, so I had a ways to walk back up Summer St. And then it's actually down a long industrial road with no sidewalks that doesn't show up on google maps. If I didn't already feel like I was walking towards impending death... The windy, wet walk with cars flying by in the middle of nothing but warehouse buildings certainly did make it feel that way.

After we signed in and signed waivers, got our team T shirts and put stuff in lockers, we headed in to the indoor soccer field where the trainers waited for us. That time slot was 4 teams, and there were 3 trainers (2 men, one big football player sized dude and one smaller, leaner guy, and a woman who's super toned with some crazy-but feminine still- arms). They're basically trainers who run boot camps for BAC.

My team only had 5 of us (out if 8) show up. The group as a whole seems to have people of varying levels of fitness.

They had everyone doing a warm up (which to my unfit body felt like a workout all on it's own) altogether. The field was split in half, we jogged the perimeter. And ran sideways, did crossovers, high knees, skipping, backwards skipping, bear crawls, lunges, and other things intermittently. I kept a slower pace knowing if I went fast I wouldn't be able to keep going. I pushed to keep moving through the whole warm up; I thought about crying and about stopping to walk but I made it.

Part of yesterday was to get baselines for everyone. Since we'll earn points for challenges and improvements.

So they split up the teams; 2 teams on one side of the field, 2 on the other. My side then got split again. So the first part I did was timed 30 yard shuttle runs... yea. I was so winded after. I did it in 2:09. Then we had to do some other stuff while others did the shuttle runs. And somehow the girl I was with and I were "lucky" enough to do another timed 30 yard shuttle (that one was slower, more like 2:49 or something). Totally needed a break after that.

Then it was on to the push ups. As many as you can do in 1 minute. All the way down, chest to floor, hands up, all the way back up to lock position. I did 18. Again this was in cycles, so while we weren't doing push ups we were tossing a big medicine ball back & forth sideways. I liked this station much better than the running one.

Then it was switch time again. The last half of the time my team was playing with a giant tire (as tall as me!!). We had to flip it over across the floor, 2 people at a time, rotating. That sucker was heavy. And then 3 at a time we pushed it across the floor (holy friction batman!).

Finally we ended with jumping jacks, mountain climbers, squats, and short jogs.

Butt officially kicked. I was pretty winded through a lot of it. But I kept pushing. I made it.

This week I may not have time to get in extra exercise, but I'm going to need it going forward I think. Maybe event just some cardio so I'm not so winded (suggestions welcome).

I'll also need to figure out what and how much to eat before. And then
a snack to bring with me for after. (again, suggestions welcome!).

And now by the end of today, the day after my first Fit League, I'm sore but not intolerable. I stretched, which helped.

The bonus? The T Shirts.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

ZERO Excuses

I did something crazy. On a whim I signed up for Social Boston Sports ZERO Excuses Fit League.

"SBS is proud to bring you Fit League - think of it as if bootcamps and a sports league had a child.

Each week, you and your team will train with a certified team Personal Trainer on a specific challenge. In the last 15 minutes of the class you'll be given a fitness test; gaining points for individual and team performance. Just like you're sports league it all leads up to a championship competition of endurance, agility, strength, and will power on the last week.

Note: This is for ALL levels and abilities. Scores are a factor of improvement not ability."

So every Tuesday for the next 8 weeks I'll be spending an hour at Boston Athletic Club getting my fit on (or trying to).

Tonight's the first night. I'm both excited and terrified. I'm not athletically inclined. I'm certainly not already fit. And I've never done anything like this before.

But I think it'll be a good opportunity to be more active and maybe get a little fitter in the process. And maybe.... just MAYBE... have a little fun (eek!).

Friday, May 4, 2012

Breaking Bad Habits

I really struggled this week with breaking some bad habits.

The biggest one revolves around sugar and candy. One of my coworkers has a big container full of candy on her desk. And unfortunately it's mostly good candy like mini milky way, snickers, and 3 Musketeers candy bars, and bullseye candies.

In the last few months I've stopped by her desk at least once a day, and many afternoons, more than once, to grab some candy. So this week I actually found myself unwittingly walking towards her desk for candy and having to convince myself against it. To turn around and walk back to my own desk.
This may not sound like much. But it was hard for me. A conscious decision and discussion with myself.

I'm also having a hard time with breakfast. Sure lately I've been eating breakfast a couple times a week... But it's been mostly pastries. One should not eat several pastries (like muffins or pumpkin bread) a week. So this week each morning I made sure to bring a banana with me and some sort of high fiber & protein granola type bar. This isn't ideal, but it's much better than fat & sugar laden pastries, and definitely better than eating nothing.

I did really well this week. I didn't give in to the chocolate or eating pastries for breakfast. I'm really happy and proud that, at the very least, I resisted those things this week.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Taking charge (again)

So I haven't blogged in 6 months or so. Simply put I sort of chickened out. I started using this blog back in July 2011 to hold myself accountable for my weight and healthier eating. And as I started to fall into my old bad habits, I also stopped blogging, I stopped holding myself accountable all together. I blamed it on the holidays and on being busy. But the reality is, I got lazy.

And once I lost control, I didn't really want to face it... until I was face to face with it in the mirror. Yup. I've gained back almost everything I lost last year. I'm angry with myself for letting it go for so long, especially since I have the tools to make the changes.

I know I can do it again. I know I can get myself on track, starting today. I'm going to hold myself accountable. I'm going to make more meals at home. I'm going to stay on track with my grocery shopping. I'm going to make healthier decisions when I am eating out.

I'm going to stop hiding from this blog just because I'm angry and embarassed that I got lazy and gave in.

I'm going to take charge again.

"The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are."