Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Oldies…

…but Goodies.

Tell you what, there is no better way to celebrate a momentous occasion than with family and friends. My friends are the best. Old and new, they rock the whole wide world.

But what makes this Tuesday Better Than the Alternative are the Oldies.

I’ve had three friends since I was about 5 years old. Two of them are twins (hi Twins!) and one of them is my friend from up the street, Teeny. Teeny is half my size and packs a whole lotta fabulousness in her just under 5′ frame.

I’ve seen the Twins any number of times since my family moved away when I was 15. Luckily, their jobs have taken them to NYC several times since I’ve lived here and I adore visiting with them, if even for just brunch before they head for the airport. They’re fabulous.

Teeny and I see each other far less often. I think we were nearly 7 years, two children, and one husband between visits when we finally touched base last winter. This weekend, Teeny and her husband happened to be visiting and were able to not only meet some of our closest friends, but celebrated the very exciting occasion of me being accepted to NYU’s doctorate of Physical Therapy program.

Yes, I’m still talking about that.

Drinks, dinner, more drinks, two gorgeous runs in Central Park (Teeny’s longest run EVER: 8km!) and lovely visits with our husbands got me to thinking how great it is to have Oldies.

  • Oldies ask about my gigantic family and they actually know all of them by name…and sometimes by nicknames.
  • Oldies remember when I was a scared, awkward kid with low self-esteem (braces AND glasses) and praise me for how far I’ve come, and I believe them.
  • Oldies don’t mind the dirty (not that kind of dirty) talk that is usually reserved only for JB about how “I’m feeling” lately with my UC.
  • Oldies love JB before they even meet him. And know him by face. And cannot get enough of learning about him.
  • Oldies cry with me.
  • Oldies want to know everything about everything and will stop the world if I need them.
  • Oldies are never ashamed of me just being me.
  • Oldies are as proud of my accomplishments as JB, my parents and my siblings are because they know that they helped me get to where I am today.

You know who the Oldies in your life are. They’re the ones who “knew you when” and still know you now. Do you have Oldies? I bet you have at least one. I am lucky enough to have 3. Love you, girls. Thanks for believing in me.

Those Oldies are exactly why today and every day is Better Than the Alternative.

Who are your Oldies? Do you see them often? Do you drink as much as I do when you see them…what is WITH that? Tell me all about your Oldies.

Now go out and run!

Change Your Shoes, Change Your Life

This is what my awesome cousin Chi-Chi says to me. I love her. And I think this applies to ALL the shoes in your life, especially your running shoes.

I spent the vast majority of my youth wearing the wrong size running shoes. They kept telling me I needed to leave room because my feet were going to grow some more. Little did they know that at age 14, I was fully grown at 5’9″ with size 8 1/2 feet. Well, my left foot is an 8 1/2 and my right is an 8 but, hey, nobody’s perfect.

Oh, little right foot you are small but I love you still

Your running shoes can make or *literally* break you. I found that out the hard way freshman year of high school when I tried to substitute cooler looking cross trainers for my usual hideous running shoes. I got shin splints. Lesson learned.

Thankfully, running has become a lot cooler since then (who knew my sport of choice would ever be cool?) and there are some awesome stores that share my geekyness and specialize in outfitting runners with the best shoe for them. JackRabbit Sports is my shop of choice.

I love you, JackRabbit

The staff is knowledgable, experienced and just as nerdy as me as knowing the latest specs of the newest editions of popular running shoes. I’ve never been disappointed with their service and decided that since I haven’t had my feet checked in a while that I should probably make sure I’m still in the right shoe for my gait. Did you know that your stride and foot strike can change? True story.

Look Mom! I'm flying!

The best part about JackRabbit is they have treadmills with cameras on the back of them that record your foot strike as you run (fly) on the treadmills. This is key in analyzing your foot strike and making sure you get the right shoe. Me? My left foot has perfect strike and my right only pronates slightly, which is fixed easily with arch supporting inserts.

Let's hear it for my perfect left foot!

I don’t have seriously high arches, but most of us have a whole lot more than shoe companies allot for in their inserts.

Top: mine. Bottom: theirs. Ummm...who has arches this flat?

If you stand in your sneakers and cannot feel the shoe on every single part of the bottom of your feet, most importantly every part of your arch, then you need an insert. Try Spenko or Superfeet. Both are good. This is a very cheap way to avoid nagging injuries like Plantar Faciitis and Shin Splints and can help prevent knee problems. Take good care of your arches!

My arches aren't crazy, but they definitely need a little extra love.

Now you’re looking for fit. Try every single shoe that fits your foot strike style. I like a little less shoe than what Saucony makes and Asics’ toe box is too wide for my foot. Brooks Ghost is too wide in the mid-foot but the Defyance fits me like a glove. Be Goldilocks when choosing a running shoe. There are way too many out there to be in a shoe that doesn’t fit you perfectly. Be picky. Try them all on.

Once you’ve found your shoe and got the arch situation handled, you can slap them into your new kicks and take them for a ride on the treadmill one last time to ensure your foot strike is straight up and down. Then, my friends, you have found your new shoe. Ta-da!

Brooks Defyance 5, never leave me!

So here’s your check list:

  1. Bring your old shoes so they can take a look at how your tread wears
  2. Come ready to jog a little (like, not in a skirt)
  3. Get your foot strike analyzed
  4. Try on lots and lots of different brands, styles and sizes
  5. Check your arch support
  6. Run one more time with the arch support and your new kicks and re-check your foot strike

Voila! Change your shoes, change your life.

Now go out and run!

Friday Fitness News: Party Time!

Celebrate good times, COME ON!!!

Kool and the Gang know what’s up. This is gonna be me tonight! Celebrating my acceptance to NYU (hopefully people will come!) with my friends and family.

AND to make things even better, one of my oldest, bestest friends in the wide world is in town with her husband. I get to show her Central Park. We will, of course, be running on Saturday morning and then taking them to only the coolest spots in town. Can’t wait.

Let the fun begin! But first, let’s catch up on the Fitness News this week.

And then there's this ad from New York Sport Club

And there you go. Comments? Questions? Did I miss something? Holler back, ya’ll.

Now go out and run!

“How Do You Stay So Motivated?”

…JB asked. Last night, this very unexpected question came my way from my gorgeous husband and I struggled to give him a concrete answer.

If I’m being honest, what comes to mind first and foremost is vanity.

Gabrielle Reece, courtesy of SI.com

Gabrielle Reece has always been an inspiration to me. She’s strong, she’s healthy, she’s visibly athletic and she’s had two babies…and still has THAT BODY. She is a testament to clean living and exercise and I want to be like her some day…you know, 6’3″ and blonde ;) Let’s be honest, I am not genetically metabolically blessed and I’m ok with it. I’ve had to exercise my entire life to stay in decent shape so working out is nothing new to me as I venture deeper into my thirties. I guess I should probably be grateful for that.

The other component of my devotion to fitness has nothing to do with motivation at all. Fitness is part of my LIFE, pure and simple. In my world, there is no option to skip workouts just like there is no option to skip brushing my teeth in the morning. I started the habit of exercising for life very young and now it’s just as much a part of my life as breathing.

 

I have always liked cake = must work out. Coincidentally, this is also the year I started running.

Public shame is another tool I use to stay motivated. I set goals, tell everyone I know about them, and then am forced to give updates on my progress when people inevitably ask, “How’s such-and-such going?” That’s what got me to the start line of my 1st marathon in NYC.

I'm not ashamed of this less-than-flattering, heavier Abby picture. That is me ROCKING NYC for the 1st time!

Sharing my fitness and life goals with others has motivated me to stick it out on many an occasion. Twitter and Facebook have opened up an entirely new community for me to seek motivation and encouragement from, which is an awesome benefit of social media.

But beyond those reasons, I find that fitness has taken over a new space in my heart these days. With my flare-ups threatening (and sometimes succeeding) to derail every single workout I try to do, I have started to realize just how important exercise is to me as a person. I guess you really don’t know how much something means to you until it’s taken away.

Working out makes me feel better about how I look and who I am. Running makes me feel a sense of accomplishment. I feel powerful and strong (duh, I know) when I lift. I feel a sense of camaraderie with my fellow classmates when I spin. I feel peaceful and like a dancer when I finish yoga. I am exhausted in the very best way after I swim.

I am my best me when I am happy in my fitness life. I guess that’s the final thought.

I want to be my best me for my husband, my family, and myself. So I make time to run, spin, flow, swim and move in a way that makes me feel good. And that is the best motivation of all: to feel good.

Me. Feeling good, post-sweat.

What motivates you? What gets you to the gym/on the road/in the class? Share with us.

Now go out and run!

My Team

Who’s on your Team? I really couldn’t do all I do without the amazing people and doctors who are on Team Abby. I’ve never been one to shy away from taking care of my body both inside and out. These experts fix me, offer me advice, and help me from having to see them too often.

Many runners are of this mentality:

Courtesy of badideashirts.com

I am not.

I mean, muscle soreness and the kind of agony I find myself enduring because I’m pushing hard is not PAIN. It’s effort. There’s a difference. Pain is what brought me to my PT early on in my muscular strain. Result? I was only off my legs for 4 weeks and finished my marathon that Fall pain-free. Abnormal stuff brought me to a gastroenterologist who diagnosed me with Ulcerative Colitis before things got really bad. Result: I’m managing my disease instead of it controlling me.

Suck it, Ulcerative Colitis!

The list goes on and on. Many of you have asked me for recommendations in the NYC area and those who’ve seen my docs are always pleased with the results. Here is an actual list of my Team, some of whom I’m linking to their businesses because I have their permission. You know I’m all about the good gossip.

These are the people who keep me healthy. They are my Team. You need a Team. You need a GP or an internist to give you a baseline for your body’s current condition and specialists you can see when things go awry. And they will. Trust me, they will. Find people you trust. See them at the first sign of things going wrong. Pain that doesn’t go away or sudden pain. Changes in your body that you know are abnormal for you.

Keep on top of your health. Start taking care of your body now. It’s the only one you get.

Now go out and run!