Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting Back into Shape

Thursday night around 11pm I noticed an email in my inbox.  Reign was hosting a free Tabura class at the 34th St Crunch. I'm not currently a member, so this was the perfect opportunity to get in a great workout. Why not!?  I've missed Tabura and the gym in general, and I've missed the group exercise scene. Nowhere have I felt more at home than walking into the gym and getting ready to take part in a group exercise class, whether as a participant or as the instructor. I walk in there, I know exactly what to do and I feel at "home."  Of course I went to the class, nearly died, and had a blast.

Saturday morning rolled around and when I woke up, my entire body was SORE. I couldn't believe it!! Especially my back!!! Tabura is AWESOME, I swear. If you haven't tried it yet and you're a member of Crunch, definitely check out Reign's class.  Not only is it super fun and the energy is awesome, you will walk away DRENCHED in sweat and totally feeling like you got in a total body workout. You won't be able to walk the next day.

I really wasn't in the mood to go to Pilates the next morning, but as the instructor, I had to follow through with my commitment.  I took my time getting out the door and ended up being 15 minutes late.  I sort of knew in the back of my mind that no one would show so I wasn't too concerned about it. I sat in the park for a while just people-watching, then willed myself to get of the bench and go to the farmers market. On my way out of the park, I discovered a free pop-up yoga event!  I noticed all these yoga mats laying in the grassy triangle at the entrance to the park; I was curious and couldn't help but stop to see what was going on. Freelancers Union was promoting it's new health clinic in Park Slope and holding free half hour yoga classes. I figured, why not? Plus I could REALLY use something relaxing like yoga after yesterdays' Tabura class. So I ended up getting a free half hour yoga class, plus I walked away with a pretty sweet turquoise yoga mat and a matching carrying bag. You never know what you'll find in Brooklyn, I must say. I live in a pretty awesome neighborhood. (Did you know Brooklyn was voted the "coolest city in the country" by GQ magazine!?!)  Then I got in my shopping at the farmers market and made my way home in enough time to get ready for tutoring.

It's about time I started getting back into shape.  Going to Tabura followed by yoga the very next day was exactly the kick in the butt I needed. It re-ignited the fire inside, and I quickly rediscovered my passion for exercising.  I resolved to join the gym again immediately. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting Out of Shape

This weather has been dragging me down lately, and all the junk I've been eating hasn't helped my energy levels.  My poor immune system is struggling to deal with the changing seasons. At times like these, motivation is extremely difficult to come by.

I am out of shape. I'm very curious what my body fat percent is right now, because it's probably over 25%.  Even though 25% is considered the high end of "fit" "athletic" or "average" depending on what chart you reference, for me this is unacceptable.  Quite frankly, the ONLY reason I would ever reach body fat levels in the high 20's or even into the 30's, is if I sat around eating absolutely nothing but junk (high sodium, high fat, highly processed foods) and did absolutely no physical activity whatsoever for months on end. Or if my metabolism just decided to up and quit or crash for no apparent reason. I'm approaching unacceptable body fat levels and need to rectify this immediately.

Maybe my views on acceptable body fat percentages are somewhat skewed after being a distance runner, fitness enthusiast, fitness instructor and most recently, a figure competitor, but that's just the way it is.  Although I may appear to be fit and healthy, for all intents and purposes I am very out of shape. There is a lot of fat on my body.  I say this with complete objectivity, because it's true. 

Now, I know what you're all thinking... "but Julie. you're not fat. you've never been fat! you're fit and healthy and you've always been thin." Yes, to a degree this is true; my overall physique is still slim and slender, and I still have a fairly "fit" appearance.  I just have a lot of fat on my body. It's time to do something about this.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Aftermath of Sandy (personal essay)

It didn't seem that serious at first. I think all of us were a little desensitized to the media's warnings. Yet as more time passes, I am beginning to realize the severity of the storm that passed through just a few days ago. Never before in my life has a natural disaster of this magnitude hit so close to home (literally and figuratively). You know things are bad when half of New York City shuts down for almost an entire week. It may not seem bad in some parts, but just watch the news. Look at the pictures. This is real.
So many people are displaced from their homes right now, for indeterminable amounts of time, without electricity, hot water, or worse. Phone lines are down. Coastal areas are still under water. People are charging their cell phones in their cars, in stores, and on the streets. Elevators are down, and buildings are closed. Fallen trees are blocking roads everywhere. Building facades collapsed, cars overturned, electric plants exploded. People are concerned about loved ones safety and well-being. People are worried about their boats and shore properties, which they have no means of accessing to even assess the damage. Plans were changed, concerts and events were cancelled, birthdays and weddings were postponed. Even Halloween is postponed. Schools are closed for an entire week. Entire towns and cities were evacuated. To compound matters, the storm struck just 6 days before the nation’s largest marathon, and 8 days before the presidential election. Talk about a conflict of journalism interests. Right when we should all be gearing up for the marathon and the upcoming election, most people are far more preoccupied with the status of their electricity and public transportation. Funny how priorities can shift in an instant.
The effects of this storm are being felt nationwide. Deadlines are being missed left and right. Production timelines are being delayed and pushed back. Supply chains have been disrupted for multiple days. Deliveries are behind schedule. Flights are suspended. Trains are down. Roads are blocked. People are stranded. Stores are closed and restaurants shut down – some temporarily, some permanently. Independent business owners are loosing income. I’m not sure how the farmers fared, but I’m sure it wasn’t well. Countless offices have been closed for the better part of a week, because lower Manhattan has no electricity. Even where offices are open, so many people have no way of getting to work because the nation’s largest mass transit system is operating at half capacity until further notice.
Almost every single person I know was affected by this storm in some way, whether by personally loosing electricity and becoming a nomad for a while, or worse by knowing someone who knows someone who lost their home. I feel so incredibly lucky that I still have power at home, that I live in a neighborhood where business is back to usual for the most part (minus a few fallen tree branches), and that all my family in both NJ and CT were largely unaffected by the storm (besides power outages). I am blessed that all my friends and family are currently somewhere safe and sound.
My office has been closed all week and has no electricity, I am working from home with no remote access to our share drive, and I have no idea when the subways will be running again. I am fearful that the subways and trains wont be operational in time for my friends and family from out of town to see me run the marathon on Sunday morning, and I'm just as concerned about how I'll get myself to the marathon starting line. I am incredibly lucky that is my biggest problem coming out of this disaster. So many others were far less fortunate, and my heart goes out to them.
It is so easy to live inside your own little bubble and think, “well I’m fine, that really wasn’t so bad.” Just because you survived the storm of the century with minimal discomfort doesn't mean everyone else did too.
The outpouring of love and support that I've witnessed over the past couple days is truly touching. We all need to stick together and support each other, especially through the bad times. People are really struggling right now. People need clothing, food, shelter, supplies, somewhere to charge their phones and somewhere to take a hot shower. This is not a laughing matter. Be there for each other and offer help wherever you can.
The more time that passes in the wake of this storm, the more the effects are being felt. We though the worst was behind us, but weathering the storm was the easy part, compared to dealing with the aftermath. As we pick up the pieces in Sandy's wake, and everyone begins moving on with their lives, we will all come to realize the challenge that lies ahead - the ongoing uphill battle just to regain a sense of normalcy.
We will get there.