Tag Archives: reviews

Go Recess—Opentable for Workouts

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On Wednesday I wasn’t invited to attend a Go Recess launch event at Uplift Studios. I was lured in by the promise of a cardio class followed by cocktails, but by the end of the night I was a Go Recess believer. In fact, I wish I thought of it myself.  I can totally see this being my go-to way to find new classes and schedule my current favorites.

Here’s how it works, 

You simply go to Go Recess

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You pick out the type of workout you are in the mood for, select a date, time and approximate location and search!

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I got 73 results and discovered many studios that I didn’t even know about!

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The great thing is that it works in real time, so it only shows the classes with space available—no more trying to book and finding out the class is full.  Plus, the price is totally transparent.

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In addition, you can check out the studio profile and get ratings for the fun, sweat, tone and flex factor.  As the site grows, there will be more and more user reviews.

As someone who uses Opentable near daily and especially when I am travelling,  I think Go Recess has a lot of potential to make creating your workout schedule so much easier. 

The other great thing about Go Recess is how easy it makes finding available classes nearby. So often I want to workout out after workk and when I go to schedule a class, I find out it’s all booked up.  Generally I am to lazy to troll five other sites to find an alternative, so I end up with a mediocre gym workout or nothing at all. This puts all my options in all in one place. 

Now that I have raved about Go Recess, and believe the opinions are geniune, let’s talk about Cardio and Cocktails!

It was my first time in Uplift Studios and I was surprised how well they had used a small space.

There was a bright and open window lined training space.

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And a nice studio for small group classes

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And of course, a bar!

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Our class was a 30 minute circuit class that worked the whole body.  We started with a short cardio and dynamic stretch warm up.  Next up was strength, we did three series, each repeated twice.  This included squats with over head press, curtsy lunges and tricep kickbacks. Between each series we did a cardio burst, such as squat jumps or burpees.  I was sweating just 10 minutes in!

After all three series with cardio bursts, we finished with some ab work and stretching.  It was definitely INTENSE for 30 minutes, but the end of each set, I really didn’t think I could do one more rep without rest.  I typically like longer workouts, but we accomplished a lot in the time we had.

While typically I am a terrible networker, I am super shy and just want to hide in a corner—or the bathroom, this event was set up to make meeting new people easy. I met the Go Recess founders, bloggers, writers, the health coaches at Uplift, it was a small enough group that circulating and meeting  people was easy. After Ashley and I had made new friends, we walked to Pure Food and Wine for dinner. It was the perfect temperature for the Garden.

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I had to get my favorite spicy thai lettuce wraps-everything in life should come with tamarind dipping sauce.

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I tried something new, the tacos al pastor smoked guacamole, hearts of palm, chayote squash, guajillo crema fresca,  and pickled onions.

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They weren’t my favorite, I think I was hoping they would be more like their original tacos, but I certainly didn’t leave hungry :).

I love the Pure Garden! It’s a summer must go for sure!

Physique 57 Classic Full Body Workout DVD Review

My relationship with Physique 57 goes back to November 2007 when I discovered it as an alternative to running, which I was pretty burnt out on after the San Fran marathon.

I loved it instantly, and it has certainly remained one of my very favorite NYC workout classes.  I have mentioned it no fewer than 25 times on the blog, probably far more.  While I have always paid for my own classes, P57 was generous enough to donate class passes to all the bloggers that attended the March 2009 meet ups and to allow me to giveaway their full set of DVDs to blog readers a few months ago.  Clearly I want everyone to have the chance to experience the magic.

I am not saying that there are no Lotte Burke workout alternatives available, Core Fusion, Transfigure, the Nalini Method and The Body all provide similiar workouts, as I imagine the Tracey Anderson Method does as well.

However, Physique has definitely been the workout that I have both enjoyed the most and the one that has given me the best results.  I did a one month membership to P57 in December 2007 and lost a few inches in my waist line and a smidge from each thigh.   In short, after 4-6 classes a week for 4 weeks, I need to invest in belts.  Beyond that I became much more aware of my posture, my abs were flat and firm, and I had definitely gained arm strength.

In the spring of 2009, I did a month at Core Fusion exhale, also going 4-6 times a week, but didn’t really see a huge change in my body.  I enjoyed the workouts and the instructors, but there was no dramatic body or strength change to speak of.

So clearly I was excited to try out the Physique 57 DVDs, as they provide a far more affordable way of getting the P57  signature workout. I had heard glowing reviews from Diana and Tina, so my expectations were pretty darn high!

I tried the 57 Minute full body workout Thursday morning. This is what I thought…

Well, I have to admit, I expected it to be much harder.  It certainly wasn’t easy, but I made it through without too much trouble.

I love that it stayed true to the class workout and flowed from beginning to end.

The structure of P57 classes looks like this:

  • arms with weights
  • arms on mat, which plank intervals
  • legs at the bar (often with playground ball)
  • butt at the bar
  • legs either at the bar or in pretzel
  • abs in c-cruve
  • abs on mat/pillow
  • final butt/back section

All movements are small (lifts, plies, leg raises), but semi painful, with about 30-60 reps each.  There are brief stretch breaks between each body part section.

The workout was strong, fun and very fast for 57 minutes.  I felt the burn on the pretzel leg section and by the last ab section, but never fully achieved the compulsive leg/ab shaking that tends to ensue during classes at the studio–there it happens early and often.

While they offered many beginner options, I really wish they had more advanced options.  Since I have taken the class for over two years, I am fairly use to the caliber of pain in the basic and open classes, and try to take the intermediate/advanced levels.

I feel I must compare it to the Core Fusion DVD, which I actually find pretty challenging–particular for abs.  I would say, overall, the Physique workout was more fun, but probably not too much harder than the Core Fusion DVD.  However, the CF DVD is choppy and not at all like the class, so it’s nice that the P57 DVD stays true to the class.

I think my biggest surprise was how animated Tanya is in the video.  She is almost Jillian-like.  I have taken her class 2-3 times in the studio, and she is certainly one of the most vocal and joking instructors, but she takes it to a whole new level in the video.  It’s almost a bit over the top.  I wonder how I will feel after I have heard the same jokes and motivations the fifth time around.  Although I will say when Tanya said: look at your thighs and think about how many calories you want to burn, it hit home—big time!  Tanya is certainly fun and for the most part funny, and I never gave a thought to stopping with her constant encouragement.

It was just a change from classes where instructors tend to be ballet dancers who are authoritative, yet supportive but not necessarily wise-crackers.

To close, I am excited to try the other dvds and to stick with my goal of 4-5 P57 workouts a week.  I am concerned it might not be enough to really create change and i might get a little bored of the dvds, but it’s a bit early to worry about that right now!

Do I recommend the full body workout? Definitely.  Especially for those with out access to the studio (or wads of cash), it is much different that your standard gym class or strength workout–if long, lean and toned muscles are your goal, this is a great, and fun way to get there.

Before I make any more assertions about the effectiveness of the DVD, I will have to do it consistently for a few more weeks.  But I will let you know what I think of the other DVDs in the series.

Old workouts, new challenges and chews!

I had a throw back of workouts the last few days.  Yesterday, I got an email saying I had one “influencer” class at Physique that I had to use or lose, so I scheduled an 8:30 AM class for this morning.  I thought I might die since it has been so long, but the class was not too insane.  I did feel like a champ when I left though.

Sunday, after my cross-country run, I kind of wanted a workout to “bliss me out” if you will.  I decided on one of my very favorites, the New York City Ballet Workout.  This was my very first Amazon purchase, and boy did I get my money’s worth. It has gone everywhere with me.  Why do I love it?  It makes you feel strong, long, graceful and poised, and it is a gentle full body workout. For some reason, more than any other workout, this one makes me feel really good about my body, I can’t explain, it just does.

I also love that within in days of doing it, I am at least 50% more flexible.  You can also do it absolutely anywhere.  Doing just one set of the minimum number of reps of all the exercises and stretches in the book took me about 45 minutes.

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For any one who wants a quick an dramatic change in their flexibility, I promise just the first two sections (warm up and stretch) will get you results in no time.  The stretch below is pretty amazing.  It seems so simple, but it is so effective.  I usually do it at the beginning, middle and end of the workout, and by the end, I have no trouble getting my chest to my knees.  The key is to spend 10 full seconds in each of the four positions—no cheating.

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So on to some yummy products I have recently sampled.  I don’t review everything I try, but these were all good enough to share!

Let’s start with one of my top five favorite foods: CEREAL!

I saw this new Nature’s Path cereal at the store and was very intrigued.  NP Optimum Blueberry Cinnamon is one of my favorites! So when I saw the new Optimum Strawberry and Yogurt, I had to try it.  I love me some yogurt!  It was really good!  Sweet and yummy.  While it has slightly less protein than the blueberry, it is also a little less crunchy—in a good way.  This is a keeper!  It is a good replacement for All Bran Yogurt Bites, which is great but highly over processed with fake ingredients.

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This was a free “surprise” from Kashi.  Kashi Honey Sunshine.  It had a very mild honey flavor, like lighter captain crunch or crunchier corn pops.  I don’t really like captain crunch, but this is a great high volume, low cal option for those who do.  I would like it in trail mix or something.

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Next up, something I received a LONG time ago, but recently became borderline obsessed with—Enjoy Life No Nuts Mountain Mambo. I typically don’t love seeds, but this combo is divine.  Sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds, raisins, apples, chocolate chips and cranberries.  This is the perfect sweet, salty, savory combo! While calorie dense at 140 calories per quarter cup, a little goes along way and it cures my sweet tooth every time.

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Next up, Mariani Honey Bar Trail Mix!  This one was donated for a work program, and I just had to sneak one for myself.  This bar lasted me all day!  It was very tasty, peanut heavy with a nice balance of sweetness.  I bar has 190 cals, 6 grams protein and 2 grams of fiber. No preservatives and six simple ingredients: peanuts, honey, raisins, sunflower kernels, almonds and pumpkin seeds—maybe it is this seed, nut combo that I love.  While not raw like larabars, it is a great option, and much better than Kind bars, which I find too sweet. Try it, I think you’ll like it.

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Finally, Hint Water.  This was literally just a hint of flavor.  I had tried it years ago and not loved it, but this time around, it was great.  As I am not a huge water person, a little flavor goes along way.  I tried the Pomegranate-Tangerine and Raspberry Lime—both were nice and refreshing.  While it gets pretty expensive to buy these, as pleasant a product as they are, sometimes just a tiny splash of juice is all it takes to up the fun factor of your agua.

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Next up, Bar Hopping!  Juice Bar Hopping that is!  I have realized that green juice is becoming a distance memory in my lifestyle and with my crazy schedule lately-gym-work-class-work-blog-homework-bed, I need all the energy I can get.  So I thought I would make it fun, but trying out all the juice bars within reasonable distance from my office.  My goal is to start my morning with green juice twice a week and them hopefully up it from there.  I will compare price, flavor, and quality!

Here are the places I want to try:

Any other suggestions?  One Lucky Duck :( is a bit far and Jivamuktea doesn’t open early enough.

Finally!  Go Yankees!

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Final note, last night was by far the best Gossip Girl episode of the season.  I had almost given up on it.  But oh the zingers were flying.  I would recap, but NYMAG shares my sentiments completely, read the recap.

Oh and other random obsession, Someecards.com

Just another marathon Monday (@ chelsea piers)

It was so lovely to have a friend in town! And hard to say goodbye.  But into work I went, and on the way, I noticed that my subway stopped was all dressed up in ING Marathon wear.  So stylish!

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Work was a little hectic, and I almost forgot that I had an exciting night in store.

I was offered a tour of Chelsea Piers and a massage in honor of Marathon Mondays at the Spa at Chelsea Piers!  How could one turn that down?marathon monday 007

I walked from work to Chelsea Piers Sports Club—it really is fall out there….brisk!

It was funny to see the transition as I headed west on 20th street.  From very residential and quaint:

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To very industrial:

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Something inside me loves the deserted, industrial areas of NY.  I crave them and seek them out.  They hearken to the fading and, in many instances, forgotten, NY.  Like the heroin chic St. Marks, hooker filled Times Square, and the gritty East Village.  I digress.

I arrived at the Sports Center:

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I knew a little about Chelsea Piers, but really didn’t know what to expect from the sports center.  I know Chelsea Piers for golf, ice skating and gymnastics, but that is about it.

Would it be an upscale gym? Personal training central?  So I went in to find out.

Erica greeted me and took me for a full tour of the sports center facilities.  If I could only pick one word to describe it, that word would be WOW!

I was kind of in my own fitness heaven.  It was like fitness of the future.  Everything was so expansive and so premium, and yet, it was not at all pretentious.   So here are just a few things I saw on my tour—compliments of Google images:

A six lane 25 yard lap pool, with a whirl pool and one of two sundecks

A 1/4 mile indoor track with a 200 meter competition track—i wish i had workout clothes to calibrate my Garmin!

All the typical gym stuff, but bigger and more spacious:

-strength deck (i probably could have gotten lost it was so big)

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-cardio deck (with a choice of views, tv or waterfront)

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-pilates reformer studio

-spinning room

Plus two fitness studios offering 100+ classes a week, including yoga, pilates, dance, cardio, swimming, running, weight training and boxing—check out the boxing ring above.

And now the really special stuff:

There was an awesome indoor sand volley ball court for volley ball and sand training classes:

And there was the biggest rock climbing wall ever.  I am actually taking the hall council I advise rock climbing for our retreat on Wednesday, and boy does the NYU rock climbing wall seem paltry in comparison to this:

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This is also open to the public for sports specific training.  They have treadmills that go 30 miles an hour.  They have an amazing ice hockey treadmill that you can get harness into while they analyze your gait and crank up the elevation.  They also offer small group sports training, so you can play soccer and do boot camps and drills even if you don’t have time for a team.

Erica recommended that I check out the Beast post-marathon.

It is a 3 day a week boot camp involving:

Participants get two days of squat thrusts, suicides, lunges, obstacle courses and 150,000 square feet of space for innovative, heart-pounding fitness fun. On the third day, BlueStreak serves as home base, where athletes train on Olympic-caliber equipment, taking advantage of Dartfish video analysis, Super Treadmills and the state-of-the-art Plyo Platform.

Okay, so here are my confessions:

One of the most exciting things about the tour was seeing Usher.  Yeah.

I was definitely obsessed with Usher in the “You make me wanna” era.  I am over it now, but as many people often ask me my type, Usher definitely qualifies as my type.  And he is way shorter than expected in person! Anyways, he was playing basketball like absolutely anyone, I would have just thought it was a guy who looked like Usher and kept walking if Erica hadn’t pointed him out ever so nonchalantly.

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Moving along.

Overall, I was definitely more than impressed with what Chelsea Piers offers it’s sports/health club members.  You would never get bored and all the great indoor facilities (track, volleyball, pool) would be amazing for winter training. I didn’t ask about pricing, which is always a big determinate, but there are non-member options available for lots of the classes and boot camps, and fun events like Date Night, which is great.  Location is definitely an asset and an obstacle, the location gives Chelsea Piers the ability to have an unbelievable vast facility, but getting to 10th avenue can be a hike when it’s cold.  When I no longer have access to the NYU gyms in June, I will definitely be looking to invest in a gym membership, so that I have a Manhattan option in addition to my building’s gym, and Chelsea Piers will be on the list of Melissa’s perspective health and fitness meccas.

THE MASSAGE!

So after my tour, I headed to the spa, put on my robe and slippers and was greeted by Julie, my therapist.

It was a 50 minute massage, that was in a word, magical.  Julie was incredible nice in answering all my questions beforehand, about how to utilize massage during training.  She said that most professional athletes get massages after every game and practice, so getting a massage once a week during training season is incredibly beneficial to anyone putting stress on the body.  I love massages with all my heart, so getting the green light on frequency was no problem for me.

She also explained that physically massage improves blood circulation, balances the body, repairs damaged tissues, gets rid of toxins and brings nutrients to the body.

On a more spiritual level, massage can help you put trust in the hands of another, which can bring you to a more confident and connected place in your training, you learn to depend on something other than yourself to get you to the finish.

I am always quick to encourage everyone doing any major race to schedule a marathon immediately after.  This is because my massage after my first marathon literally ended every single ounce of pain and soreness I was feeling like magic.  However, I had never really thought about them during training.

The massage was amazing.  Julie used heat therapy as well as massage, which was great.  The table was warmed and she used warm towels, I was in heaven.  I have had half a dozen massages in the last two years, and this was by far the most precise and targeted massage.  Julie went far deeper into each area of tension and really worked out the knots in my neck and back and applied significant pressure to all the main problem areas for runners.  Despite a few moments of pain, I was practically asleep and totally blissed out by the end. I can’t wait to see how I feel tomorrow!  The massage was definitely on par with Ohm, which has been my favorite massage place for years.  Chelsea Piers offers a more spacious zen-lounge and Ohm offers more cookies and cakes :)

Definitely take advantage of the Marathon Monday discounts while it lasts!

I  contemplated getting dinner at the Sports Club Cafe, since they have a sushi bar, but I have had sushi 4 times in the last week, so I figured I better not–I’m practically a cliche at this point.  cafe1_596x400 Instead, I hoped in a cab to 42nd and on my way, I passed the premiere of The Stepfather—red carpets, paps and all.  No Penn Bradgley sightings though.

The day ended much the way it started, another ‘thon poster in the train and another shot of my subway stop at night. marathon monday 008

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Happy Monday everyone, I am going to do homework for as long as I can possible keep my eyes open.

Loopy Lacing and Garmin FR60 Review

In addition to buying sneakers a half size bigger to alleviate the pressure on the top and forefront of my foot, I have been experimenting with some creative lacing to provide extra room for my very wide feet.

While the bigger size definitely helped give my toes more room, they were still a little snug across the widest part of my foot.  Skipping the second hole when lacing my shoes has helped given me a little extra room in that area.

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I was finding that I was experiencing some heel slippage due to the bigger size, so I have started lacing all the way to the very top, that second top hole no one every uses.  This has kept the shoes snug around the ankle, although it does put a little extra pressure on the top of the ankle.

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I bought the Garmin FR60 in late July.  The FR60 is much lighter and sleeker than the Garmin Forerunner 305 and less expensive that the Forerunner 405.  It also comes in ladylike lilac!  It can be used for running or biking, indoors or outdoors.  Overall, I give the product a 6.  I think second and third generations will really improve some of the less desirable elements of the product, but for my running purposes so far, I have enjoyed having a reliable tool to track my time, speed and distance.

For around $129, you can get the watch and heartrate monitor. But in order to fully utilize the Garmin FR60, you need to buy the bundle, which includes an ANT+ stick (to sync your workouts from your watch and/or exercise machingto the computer) and the footpod (which you need to track distance since there is no GPS with the FR60). The bundle brings the cost to around $180.

Design: 9

Aesthetically, I love the product. It is super light and streamline!  I had the Forerunner 305, but it was way too big for me and the GPS was not wel suited to NY skyscrapers.

Ease of use: 4

So the Garmin FR60 arrived with at least 8 Quick Start Manuals all in different languages.  However, you definitely need the full manual to use this product, and that is only available online.  I wish they had saved the paper form the 8 separate quickstarts and just given me one actual manual in English.  I am fairly technologically able, and my biggest complaint about this product, is there is nothing intuitive about the controls. It is very difficult to figure out how to set it up and use it.  I referred to the manual before and after my first ten workouts with this product. I am sure later editions will smooth out these issues, but if you don’t have patience for reading manuals, this is not the product for you.

Also, if you don’t have patience for pushing lots of slightly stiff buttons, this is not the product for you.  You have to push numerous buttons to get your product ready to track the type of workout you are doing and you have to push numerous buttons to end your workout.  I do not understand why they do not have a stop/reset button!

So here she is in neutral mode (need to fix date):

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On the bright side, once you finally figure out how to operate your workout buddy, you have lots of options.  You can have up to 5 pages displayed as you workout, and each page can display 3 different things. So on page one, you can have time, distance, and speed.  On page 2, you can have pace, calories burned and heart rate.  and so forth. You can also select what speed you want the Garmin to scroll through the pages (if at all) while you are working out.

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The things I really love is that it saves all your workout, so you can review your stats, speed, laps, distance right form your watch.

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One thing that I feel was very mismarketed by  Garmin was the watches ability to track general fitness.  This watch can not be used for aerobics or any workouts not on a machine.  It is really for running or biking outside or on a machine.  NOTE: This has been fixed, you can know update your software to track calories at the gym.

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Under user you can enter all your stats, so your readings reflect your fitness level and body type.

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I also love that you can opt to have the Garmin beep at every lap (mile or distance you set), automatically pause if you drop below a certain speed (which is great when you are running in the city and hit a red light), and scroll through the pages you set up.

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THE FOOTPOD

So far I have found the footpod to be very accurate and reliable.  In fact, most people say the footpod is more accurate than GPS, so I lot the little, light pod!  It is not nearly as bulky as polar pods.

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The Heart Rate Monitor

The monitor is fairly comfortable, not hard or anything, but for some reason, even at its smallest setting, it is too big for me.

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I use this safety pin to tighten up the slack so it doesn’t keep sliding down.

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Overall:

Plus

  • Super sleek, light, and dare I say it, sexy…okay that’s pushing it :)
  • Footpod works anywhere and is very accurate
  • Lots of customizable options and useful features, autopause, page set up, lap counter.
  • great for running and biking, and possible swimming
  • Can be used inside or outside
  • Not too expensive
  • Tracks distance, heart rate, calories, and speed
  • Easy to sync workouts from Ant stick to computer (i haven’t tried but in theory it is very easy)
  • Don’t have to remember to recharge battery

Minus

  • Very difficult to learn to use
  • No stop, save and reset type button to end workouts
  • Lots and lots of button pushing to get things set up before, during and after workouts
  • Heart rate monitor a little large for smaller frames
  • Battery must be replaced after about 1 year

I have really enjoyed using this for running, but I do wish that I could use it for  fitness classes and other types of workouts.

Nu-Kitchen day 1

So yesterday, I announced that I would be trying Nu-kitchen food delivery service for the week.  I discussed a few great features that Nu-kitchen offers, but I will post them again for ya’ll:

  • The food is completely fresh, natural and delicious looking and the menu changes every week—unlike nutrisystem which looks like dehydrated dog food in the ads
  • It is affordable by NY standards, nu-kitchen is about what I spend on a day’s worth of food or one moderately priced meal out.  Any where from $11 for lunch or dinner to around $29-39 for  a day with three meals and two snacks depending the special and plan option
  • Lots of plan options, you can do a la carte, a few meals a day or a full day of meals and snacks.  You can even just do a day or two a week if you want!
  • You pick exactly what you want for each meal through a very simple online system
  • Nutritional information is provided for every single item on the menu
  • Why I wanted to try Nu-Kitchen:

    • I have heard great things from several people, including a good girl friend, who said that using Nu-Kitchen two days a week helped get her portion-size in check, normalize her eating schedule, and shed 5 stubborn pounds.  I should also note, she tried Zone Diet but was really disappointed, but was thrilled with the difference in food quality and service when she switched to Nu-Kitchen.Sarah Jessica Parker is also a fan:)
    • I also really need to get my portion sized back in check, I have been eating buffet-style since July, and I have lost all sense of appropriate food portions.
    • I don’t count calories, so I have zero idea how many I am eating in comparison to how much my body actually need. Nu-kitchen has a few plans, mine is around 1500 calories, around 400 for each meal and 150 for each snack.  Having a sense of what 1500 calories looks like over the next week will really put my typically diet in check for me.  If I had to take a wild guess, I would say I eat around 2000-2200, but that could be totally off in either direction.
    • I have a strong tendency to go overboard with sweets, mindless snacking, and grazing, so having the work all done for me will be a tremendous help—and help me eliminate some of those bad habits.  I have no ability or desire to follow a plan from a magazine or book, but Nu-kitchen gives me 5-6 options for every meal, so I get to eat what I want without having to do planning and shopping that my schedule often doesn’t allow for.
    • I have found becoming a vegetarian to mean carbetarian, so it will be nice to see what the difference will be like with more balanced meals.

    Overall, I really want to get a better sense of portions and clean up some of my eating habits, just by being more mindful.  Plus it is kind of fun to try something new.

    My reservations are that both my work and social life include lots of lunch and dinner meetings and dates, and there is constantly food at the office, we actually keep a stock of snacks, chips, candy and ice cream novelties, plus food is the basis of the never ending event and meeting schedule, so saying no and explaining why I eating out of my lunch sack will be interesting and perhaps at conflict! 

    So here we go!  Food blogging day 1.

    AM WORKOUT: I should mention I started my day with 10 minutes on the rower, 2 sets of 14 reps on 8 leg machines, about 10 minutes of ab work, tons of stretching and 15 minutes of swimming.

    This was at my door as I went down to the gym.

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    Inside was breakfast

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    Lunch

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    Snacks and

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    Dinner

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    So I didn’t have to lug the cooler to work, I put breakfast, lunch and a snack into the great cooler Tanya gave me at a blogger meet up, I also added a bag of crudités just in case I didn’t like something or was starving

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    On the way out the door, I had an ADORA calcium supplement and I grabbed a coffee with skim on the way into the office, so I didn’t get around to breakfast until just after 11am.  

    I warmed up my stonefruit muffin topped with some marmalade in the microwave, yum.  Muffins are definitely my favorite breakfast sweet, but NYC only offers them in 500 calories portions, so I usually pass but this perfectly portioned muffin was sweet and delicious.

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    It also came with a yummy side of yogurt.  Pictured with my coffee which insisted on spilling all over on my walk, damn dome tops!

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    Breakfast was very tasty—and I couldn’t pick a yummier combo than yogurt and muffin, but it was not terribly filling for 350 calories.  Had I eaten breakfast at a normal time, I would have had a hard time making it until lunch.

    Speaking of around 11:45 I headed to the bank to make some deposits, and the block next to my office was all blocked off with police barricades and police bars galore! I asked a cop what was going on and he said the president was having lunch on the block!  OMG, I was just wearing my Obamathoner t-shirt yesterday.  I hung out for a good half hour as the collection of police, secret service men and snipers grew and grew.  Apparently Il Molina was the spot of choice.  I knew I had to get back to work, so I reluctantly left, but apparently about 20 minutes later both Obama and Bill arrived on the block for lunch!

    Bill Clinton and President Obama

    So back at the desk, I had lunch around 1.  A yummy salad packed with veggies, rice and beans and finished with balsamic.  The salad was good, not as huge as the deli and whole foods salads I usually make, but probably a much more realistic size meal.  The rice was a little dry, but the salad really exceeded my expectations. It was definitely more interesting than I expected. I am glad they added the beans, since I obvi wouldn’t have chosen the option with chicken.

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    I must confess, after lunch my sweet tooth acted up and I couldn’t resist splitting a strawberry filled Madeline cookie with an office worker.

    INJURY UPDATE:

    In the afternoon, I headed to the student health center to have a Doctor look at my foot and ankle.  He specialized in sports medicine and PT, so it was great to get such a quick appointment.  He poked, bent, pressed and twisted my foot.  And the good news, it is most likely not a stress fracture.  Despite the fact that everything I read online said that stress fracture often have pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest, the doctor said that if it was a stress fracture, the pain wouldn’t have gone away so quickly. He said that it could just be from tight fitting shoes, or it could be tendonitis or fluid build up—neither as serious as a stress fracture.  He also said that it is hard to diagnose when I was not actually in pain while i was in the office.

    I did have ankle pain, but my foot felt fine.  He really didn’t offer my suggestion for my ankle, but I was hugely relieved that he really didn’t think it was a stress fracture. Maybe I should stop googling about injuries!  However, he told me to get an x-ray if the pain comes back and to see him while I am in pain. Hmmm.  All day I have been in pain, but it keeps switching: ankle, foot, knee, shin, it is like my left leg from the knee down is on the hot mess express destination f with my sanity! I am just going to still with the positive that it was all related to the shoes and keep up with the icing for the time being.  I might also cut one of the super long runs from my schedule.

    On to my snack: pita with red pepper dip…kind of

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    So when I picked out my snack it said the pita with red pepper dip was 170 calories, but when it arrived it said it was 420 calories and 35 grams of fat (healthy fat, but still a lot of fat!).  So I decided that I would skip the dip and go for the delicious pita chips and the majority of the raw veggies I brought.

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    I had dinner around 7:15: Sloppy Joes with Potato Salad.  Just 2 minutes in the microwave and dinner was served, which is great when you come home hungry.  I had no excuse to snack while preparing dinner!

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    I really liked the tomato and onions in the sloppy joe mixture.  The roll was a little dry and bland, but it took me a while before I figured out that you were supposed to make a sandwich.  I have never had a sloppy joe before.  The sauce on the roll really helped its case.   I am not a huge soy person, but the dinner was very satisfying.  Both lunch and dinner made me realize that I need to focus on slowing down and enjoy my meals.  I eat so quickly sometimes that i hardly realize I eat.  That alone is a great take away from day 1.

    But I can’t forget dessert, a trail mix cookie!  Yum-o.  My sweet tooth loved every soft chewy bite. 

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    Nu-kitchen gave me this little rating sheet for feedback too! I must say, the good morning melissa across the top really made my day!

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    Thus ends day 1.

    So far,

    • I have caught myself wanting to snack when I wasn’t really hungry.
    • Enjoying satiety. After so many too large meals, it was really nice to feel satisfied but not stuffed leaving the table. 
    • Realizing the need to slow down and not rush through meals distractedly
    • On a regular schedule. Tonight I have a paper due at midnight, so I didn’t attend an semi-optional work event at 6:30.  This helped keep my on a regular meal/snack schedule.  Had I gone, I may have gotten hungry and caved to the Sunshine Sweet Cupcakes by around 7:30, and then probably come home and eaten dinner at 8:30 or 9 anyways.  I need to find a way to eat healthfully despite my odd work schedule.

    While I am not sure exactly how many calories I consumed since I did have a few extras, milk in coffee, adores, half a cookie, a few breath mints, but I would say that I came in just around 1650 today. 

    I feel quite satisfied, focused and energized, more so than usual.  All right, that’s my first day on nuKitchen and my first day as a food blogger! phew!

    Night kids!

    Dawn Workouts and Deals

    The last few weeks, the great advice by the HLS organizers, and my schedule for the upcoming week have made one thing abundantly clear: morning workouts are a must!

    Last week I averaged about 3-4 hours of sleep a night, mainly due to anxiety, and therefore I only did one formal workout.   While I think it is safe to say that sleep trumps the gym when we are dealing with so few hours, I definitely noticed that my ability to cope with craziness plummeted without my daily sweaty release. So I am going to try to start going to bed earlier, when possible and  not letting any excuses get in the way of my AM workouts.

    Today was a pretty chill day compared to the last couple weeks, but even so fitting in a workout eluded me:

    • 6:00 AM wake up, finish two research papers due this afternoon
    • 7:30AM shower get ready
    • 8:00 AM leave apt, head to subway
    • 8:10 AM get off train at Grand Central walk to work and pick up coffee (2ish miles, so a bit of exercise)
    • 8:50 arrive at work
    • 12:30 PM-lunch with boss (no lunch hour workout)
    • 5:00 PM leave work to attend work related planning session (no after work workout)
    • 7:00 race to Astor wine to pick up a bottle for dinner with a girlfriend. They are out of my new favorite, Cupcake Chardonnay, but the guy recommends an amazing Riesling that does not disappoint.
    • 7:30 Meet friend at Nook, a cute BYOB place in the theatre district
    • 9:00 call sister and congratulate her on landing her first real job!
    • 9:30 PM arrive home and start blogging

    Too much wine at dinner means that the 30 day shred session I had intended is not happening–thus recommitting me to my AM workout plan!

    But guess what? I have a VERY excited new workout planned!

    People often ask me how I find out about stuff going on in the city.  I scour NYMAG, Timeout, CitySearch, VitalJuiceDaily, but tomorrow’s workout came to my attention in a somewhat more serendipitous fashion.  A few times over the last few weeks, I have walked by an open garage-type space on my street that had lots of gymnastic rings and tons of super fit people standing around.  I was incredibly curious (acroyoga maybe?), but hadn’t had a chance to investigate.PICT0049

    Then, the other day, the sweatiest man I have ever seen got in the elevator with me.  Now I am as appreciative of a good sweatfest as the next person, so  I said, good workout?

    He said, yeah it is the group fitness class down the block.  It almost killed me.  Seriously, I want to die.  oh, and the first week is free.

    Free kickass workout? Magic words to me!

    So after a second of googling,  I found out that just down the block was CrossfitLIC!  A bootcamp style workout based on marine training.  I had heard of Crossfit studios in the city, but convenience is key, and this could not be any more convenient if it was in my  (tiny ass) closet.  So I am all signed up for 6:30AM tomorrow, and I can’t wait.  I tried to get the roomstars to join me to no avail…yet. hehe.  Crossfit has outposts all over, so investigate if you are interested in checking it out. Read more about it here!

    More deals that won’t slim down your wallet!

    Gena convinced me that a “ fit recessionista” feature should be a staple on my blog, so look for my first official “get fit for less” type post coming up.  As an avid lover of saving a dime, I am excited to get back to posting deals on a regular basis, which has always been one of my intentions with the blog. I will do my best to incorporate ideas and deals in and outside the city. Plus, I hope to have some great product and class giveaways to boot! Here is an idea of what is to come:

    The Yoga Room, which I recently reviewed, is offering a free outdoor class on the piers of Gantry State Plaza at 9:00AM on Saturday.  This is also ridiculously convenient, so if I don’t have to work, I will be checking it out!parkyoga

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    Fitness in the Square is still the place to be, especially if you don’t have to work! Thursday mornings  in Union Square take advantage of yoga at 8am, Brooklyn Bridge Bootcamp at 9am and Tai Chi at 10am.

    Nurture’s Path is holding an open-house launch party on Aug 18, 2009, from 6-9pm at 1133 Broadway, Suite 1020. A group of alternative health practitioners will also be on hand to provide more information about their healing modalities and give complimentary mini-sessions.  In addition to shopping and pampering, guests will also be treated to healthy snacks and beverages, special one-time only discounts, and be entered into a raffle to win some of the products for sale. The first 25 guests will receive an exclusive gift bag. Guests should RSVP to nurturespath(at)aol.com.

    Complimentary consultations at Body Love Wellness (244 5th Ave)

    Golda Poretsky at Body Love Wellness is offering a free 30-minute consultation (normally $60) to see where clients are in terms of their relationship with food and their body. You’ll discuss symptoms or ailments you’re experiencing and whether a holistic approach to food and body acceptance can help

    And finally, some fun extracurricular reading:

    Can Running Actually Help Your Knees? (my friend sent me this interesting NYTimes article)

    Looking Past the Numbers If you still count calories, here is one more great reason to stop.  Kim Snyder is one of my favorite non-mainstream bloggers and she just did a good post on shifting your focus from calories in, calories out to food in, food out.  It is a pretty standard raw food perspective, but definitely worth checking out.

    Goodnight kids.  Crossfit workout review and some thoughts on running coming up this week!

    Getting Back in the Routine

    I still can’t believe I am back. I miss everyone from the program like crazy.  It is amazing how well all 23 of us got along, and a good thing since we were together for 21 days straight!  Fortunately, I have had a warm welcome back from all of you lovely bloggies, and my dear friends.  When I got home on Sunday, my friend Derek came over and we went out for sushi at Shi.  Not that I couldn’t have gotten sushi in South Africa, but it is such a New Yorky thing to me.  BTW, the “Cupcake” wine was probably the best white wine I have ever had.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to see my roomie yet, which is KILLING me.  But she did leave me a little homecoming gift:more blog pics 307 We share a cultivated love of HIMYM—if you hadn’t noticed.  So the fact that I am now a proud owner of the Bro Code cracks me up.  Did anyone catch last night’s episode?  The Yips?  It was amazing.  One of my favorites…the fact that it involves joining a gym may have something to do with it!

    So besides getting back to daily life, getting back into my fitness/healthish eating routine has been necessary too.  I did manage to work out about 40-60 minutes/5 days a week while abroad, but the serious lack of strength training definitely took its toll!  Not to mention that my diet was all over the place and quite indulgent on many occasions.  But I am going to do full posts on my running and gym trips and of course the food (traditional African, tea time, and South African American—made by us), so don’t worry, no details will be spared.  

    Anyways, I thought I had probably gained 4-5 pounds since I often felt overly full and didn’t miss too many tea time delectables. So I was surprised that I actually weigh the least I have in a year or so; however, I am also as mushy in the middle as I ever remember being, so the old scale really doesn’t mean much to me.  I am sure as soon as I add strength back into my routine, my weight will go up a bit, and hopefully my muscles will firm up a bit too—I anticipate some shredding in my future.  I don’t know very much about how fat your body can lose muscle and gain body fat, but hopefully trying to reverse the process isn’t too intense.  I can never seem to get a straight answer on increasing versus decreasing body fat and the best plan of attack, so if anyone knows, I would love the info!

    Fortunately, while I was away my Garmin FR 60 finally arrived!

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    I had a little trouble figuring out how to use it—must change date, but hopefully a little more time with the manual will help me figure things out.  It’s definitely cute and sleek, I just hope it has the performance and features I need!

    So on Sunday afternoon, I had slept probably 17 hours between the plane ride and napping in my wonderful bed, so I did an easy 4 miles and about 10 minutes of light strength.

    Monday morning I did a good 4 miles, it was pretty hard, but I was going at a decent pace.

    Today, I did one of my favorite types of exercise, city walking. I walked from Grand Central to work, around 2 miles.  Tonight I did about 25 minutes of cardio and 10 or so of lunges, squats, plies and crunches with complimentary weight moves.

    I have also gotten back to a produce heavy diet–and have really been enjoying it.  I am making a big effort to bring my lunch to work, rather than to spend $12 everyday on something so so.  Last night I made a great roasted eggplant, sweet potato and chickpea salad paired with an arugula, carrot, tomato, cauliflower, broccoli and cucumber salad.  I toasted the eggplant and sweet potato with a drizzle of balsamic vinegarette and sprinkled them with cinnamon, garlic powder, and cayenne.  After 20 minutes I added the chickpeas for another five.  Quick and easy.  I tossed the raw veggie salad with just a tiny tiny bit of dijon mustard, agave and soy sauce.  The meal was delicious and filling.  more blog pics 301

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    Best part was that I was able to get two dinner and part of a lunch out of the ingredients; bI used more argula and chickpeas toasted with salsa and parmesan for an easy lunch. 

    In other news, I have been setting up some running dates and a co-worker invited me to join a big group doing the Philadelphia Distance Run in September.  While it is a little expensive, I think it will be a fun course and a good time.

    Oh and really really exciting news, I have a ticket to the Healthy Living Summit.  So I finally get to meet my blogging idols—all of you! And I am staying with one of my best friends from middle and high school, so I am psyched!

    Now that I am back in the city, I am excited to get back to reviewing classes and sharing deals. 

    Did anyone see the hike/yoga combo  through Outward Bound advertised on Vital Juice Daily?  I totally want to go!  Preferably by winning! I need to save save save these days!

    Also in yoga news, there are a couple yoga and pilates studios right in my neighborhood that I haven’t tried.  I guess I also have free yoga and pilates in the building and never go, but I just keep forgetting! Anyways, the Yoga Room is having an open house on August 1st and 2nd.  $10 yoga and pilates classes and $15 reformer classes.

    I am out for now, night all!

    Freedom…sort of

      The last week has been so packed that I have hardly had time to feel what should be relief and freedom from finals.  I am happy to report that in a week’s time, I turned in 3 10-15 page papers, a 50 page project report and did a 90 minute presentation, all while working full-time in higher ed’s busiest and most stressful period.  But hey, I survived (though it’s not completely over) and I even got to take home these lovely flowers from a committee meeting I coordinated.  We’ve certainly had our share of May showers, so hopefully we will have an equal abundance of May flowers.

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    While I have given myself some leeway with posting this week,there have been a lot of great things going on that I wanted to mention!

    First thank you to Gina for the amazing, amazing Summer Shape Up Challenge, you are so detailed and thorough, I love it.  I will now have time to fully participate.  YAY!

    Writing down what I eat will be by far the hardest part, but hopefully that means it will be very effective. I have already noticed that I do not drink nearly enough water! oops.

    Thanks to Gena for the awesome Raw Wednesday Challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed it this past week. I managed to eat about 90% raw and hardly  noticed it.  I tried to recreate my absolute favorite Pure Food and Wine salad, the S&M, and while it was very good I could replicate the perfection of the Pure Kitchen– in taste or beauty.  My version had romaine, cucumber, cauliflower, carrot, sundried tomato, sprouts, avocado and rosemary quackers with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.  I know this salad receives a lot of love on the net, but if you can’t come to New York, see Sarma’s post on how to make a DIY version at home.

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    Thanks to Dara for the great interview post!  Great tips!

    Thanks to Liz for the awesome playlist. It totally inspired me, this morning I worked on 3 playlists: my getting ready mix, the “you’re awesome, I want you” mix and the “for the fellas” mix, which I will be posting over the next few weeks.

    Also very exciting, this week Ashley moved into my building! Welcome to the hood! I see lots of runs and tanning on the roof deck in our future!

    This I had the opportunity to create a personalized mix of my favorite comfort food: cereal. This definitely made the finals period easier!

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    [me] & goji offered to let me make my perfect runner’s mix from their huge selection of cereals, granolas, and natural add-ins and super foods.   Way too cool. I really liked that I could mix granola and cereal for the best of both worlds, and clearly I had too much fun with the add-ins!

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    I also really like that the website calculates the nutrition info by 3/4 cup, not ounces, so you know what type of serving size you are getting.

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    I really loved my mix, the huge container is not going to last very long!  It was my first chia seed experience, and while I am not a seed fan at all, these are so tiny, you hardly even notice them, but you get all their super food goodness!

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    My mix is the perfect yogurt mix in, the chia seeds really thicken it and make it super filling.  Because I picked muesli instead of cereal as a base, it’s a bit “full on” to eat alone from a bowl, but I bet it will be an awesome hot cereal, if I want to try it sans yogurt at some point. The chocolate covered berries are addicting, even if they are a little out of place with the overall texture of my mix. Thanks [me] and goji, I’ll be back!

    Offline, I celebrated being done with school by having drinks at the Volstead on Friday—hey Kev!  It had a very cool, open vibe, but not too crazy or loud. While I have been wanting to back to La Esquina, Little Branch or Stanton Social for a while, the Volstead was far more convenient and totally fit my desire for a sexy atmosphere in a low key environment.  It has been so long since I have gone out that I need to work my way back to downtown/les craziness.  Best of all, I found my favorite drink ever! I asked for the Volstead Lemonade without sugar, and viola, the drink of my dreams was born.   The mix was vodka, club soda, ice and fresh lemon. Perfection.  Very refreshing and pretty light, as cocktails go. I admit after two, and then a 1/4 of a corona that somehow was ordered in place of the diet coke I requested (boys!), I was definitely done for the night.

    *Skip this if you do not care about my computer issues*

    Friday before I went out my cd-drive stopped working.  I have never been happy with my ThinkPad x61 purchase, i have had numerous issues with the compatibility of my cd drive, my docking base and vista from day 1.   Between 6PM on Friday and 6:30 AM on Saturday morning, I spent over 3 hours on the phone with Lenovo. This involved 8 phone calls, as two listed numbers no longer worked and it was the same for several of the automated options. Long story shorter, I give myself credit for being nice, polite and thanking all 5 people I spoke with, even though only 1 actually gave me information that was in any way helpful.  The rest told me the only way to fix my software problem was to buy an external hard drive, take everything off my computer, restore it to factory settings and reload everything. I wasn’t fully convinced, so I decided to some more of my own googling, found a problem fixer on the solution center at Microsoft and managed to fix the problem in about 5 minutes.  While this solved my DVD-cdrw issue, it did screw with my iTunes.  Vista will not allow me to burn from iTunes and I get an error message every time I start iTunes saying that the registry settings to burn cds are missing and to reinstall iTunes, but if I do, the dvd player stops working.  So for now I will deal with the error message and not being able to burn.

    *rant over*

    Anyways all this gave me a late start to the day on Saturday.  I ended up getting to Self Workout in the Park a little late.  I got to do five 20 minute classes all of which were pretty good.  I was feeling the effects of my cocktails through Movieography and Bikini Body Bootcamp, but by Stiletto Strength, I was having a great time and working up a sweat—although the instructor could have broken down the dance a lot better. After Knockout Workout was the much anticipated Masala Bhangra, the entire reason I go to work out in the park. It was fab. 

    But the best part of the event was seeing Emily from Eating Chalk and Amelia from AC/DC Highways to Health.  I had really hoped to see Missy too, but I was late and through off the whole plan. sorry!

    There were a couple good freebies, like these delicious almonds, but I ended up giving the rest of my goodies to a homeless man, who needed them more than me.

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    After the Workout in the Park, I had to race to an event for my internship, so I hoofed it down Fifth and across 59th to clean myself up up and change at Columbus Circle.  It was kind of funny to go from workout clothes to a long sun dress and heels in like 3 minutes, but as someone who often does from the gym out to dinner, I have become quite the master of the quick clean up and change.  I then headed to Sephora to do my make up and dab on some Carolina Herrera 212.  It really helps to have a mental map of every Sephora in the city in these situations.  I ran in to a friend on the way out of CC, but still managed to make it down to 42nd and across 4 avenues to pier 83 by 4:15PM just in time to start checking people in for the twilight cruise.  It was actually a lot of fun, almost 500 people attended and we got some great views of the city.  Actually, one of the other staff members had run the North Face Endurance Challenge, which is a half marathon up Bear Mountain, that morning and came in third overall.  It was very cool to have speak with fellow runner, and to hear about her crazy trail race!

    I was actually thinking about possibly organizing a blogger hiking trip up in Cold Springs.  Let me know if you may be interested.  I will definitely mention it again soon!

    Today, I got up early and did a fair amount of cleaning, got in a nice run, and hope to meet a friend for sushi later.  I am excited for the Shape Up, so I will resume my actually weekly workout logs next week!

    I hope everyone had a great weekend!

    Brunch Reminder, Long Run, Hills, Reviews!

    I am excited to see everyone at the brunch tomorrow.  I you won’t be able to make it, please shoot me an email!  Thanks.  There may be a small surprise in store :)

    I took a little longer than usually getting down to long run business this morning, usually I like to roll out of bed and out the door, but I spent a few hours just lounging about this morning.  Before I finally left I had a piece of Vermont Company Soft Whole Wheat toast with whipped cottage cheese and some cinnamon.  I used to crave this combination in high school, could get enough.  It’s been a while, but it was a nice comfort breakfast. newmans 009

    I knew I needed to switch up my landscape in order to enjoy my long run.  I was getting a bit bored with my queens routes, so I decided to run over the 59th Street Bridge, into the city, across 59th street, up the hilly cobblestones of 5th ave to the entrance at the East 72nd street transverse and around the upper loop of the park back down to West 72nd for a total of just about 9 miles—according to gmaps pedometer.  It was a good run, although very slow.  My body seemed okay with distance, just resistance to speed of any kind, so I just went with it.

    I took a new baron the journey with me,  Dr. Weil’s Organic Banana Manna Pure Fruit and Nut Bar. Even though I wasn’t as hungry as I expected after my run, I had to try it.   Oh my god, this thing is amazing.  It was sweet and delicious it tasted like a delicious, gooey piece of banana bread.  I ate half and can’t wait to enjoy the other half later.

    I have had about 5 bar failures in a row—see my review page, and it great to finally have one hit it out of the park.  The only ingredients are dates, dried banana and almonds (all organic).   It has 180 calories, 4 grams fiber, 3 grams protein and 6 grams fat.  If it had a little more protein this would be my new breakfast, but this is definitely a good running snack because the ingredients are very easy to digest.

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    Thank  you Nature’s Path for offering to send me the samples.  The Banana Manna was the flavor I was least excited to try, so I literally can’t wait to try the other flavors-Chia Razz, Goji Moji and Chocholada Walnut! I subscribe to Dr. Weil’s newsletter, which is always awesome, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised these are too!

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    Running over the 59th Street Bridge always makes me feel pretty badass.  It keeps me thinking about when I will run over it during the NYC marathon.  Everyone says the incline of the bridge is brutal at around mile 15 of the marathon, but it is the start of mile 2 for my runs, so it never seems that bad.

    While I like running in the city, I hate having to stop at lights.  But I will share some of my favorite sites from the bridge to the park. 

    Dylan’s Candy Bar-59th and 3rd

    Bloomies (Lex and 59th)

     

    The Cube (59th and 5th)

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    The Frick Collection 5th ave and 70th Street

    Tami asked me a few days ago whether NYC had hills.  Well, the island of Manhattan is pretty flat, the entire island is on a very gradual incline, so if you are doing a really long run you will feel it heading uptown, but it’s not noticeable (with a few exceptions) when walking.

    Central Park on the other hand, was designed by architects, and is very hilly.   All the races in the park cater to the easiest, fastest routes. It is interesting that it is slightly easier and faster to run counter clockwise around the park.  Clockwise (which is the direction I train) around the park is a slew of hills, including cat hill, the great hill, and a bunch of rolling hills starting from around East 100th Street and continuing until about West 86th, which is a considerable distance to be running hills.  Any race under 6 miles conducted in the park will bypass the major hills by turning at 102nd St. rather than making runners tackle the great hill if unnecessary.

    For anyone new to running in Central Park, the lampposts have the streets numbered at the base, which is a great reference of where you are in the park and on your run.