How I pull off working out several times per week

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If you didn’t IG your gym visit, did you really go?

I happen to post my visits to the gym on social media as a way to keep myself accountable and to motivate myself. There are many who think it’s an absolutely obnoxious habit, and that’s perfectly OK and they’re more than welcome to mute, unfollow or unfriend me. Really, I don’t take offense at those things!

It also has prompted a few friends to ask me how I do it. How do I get away from my office to fit a class in? How do I have time to shower?

I’m going to answer all of that in this blog post.

Just like keeping a food diary (which I do on Weight Watchers’ website, as it’s the best system that works for me), tracking my workouts is a must. After xx (heh!) years on this earth, I know what works for my body. Right now, I’m in a great place. I have virtually zero aches and pains, I’m sleeping well, and my energy is high.

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What Weight Watchers tracking looks like.

I achieve this through eating well (real nourishment! Lots of colorful vegetables and mostly plant based proteins) throughout most of the week with a little indulgences on weekend, be it a glass (or a few!) of wine, a second helping of dinner or a snack, or dessert.

As for working out, I treat it as a commitment. I’m paying $70 a month for my gym plus other fees here and there for different yoga studios that I use. So I refuse to let that money go to waste. We all have periods when we slack off. Well, for me, it’s never the working out.

I enjoy working out and with a history of Parkinson’s in my family, I know it’s better for my health.

The challenge for me is with the food part. I’m a stress eater. While my dad was in and out of the hospital and nursing home, I put on weight because I was eating meals at the hospital or on the go. No matter if I’m making good choices, the way it works with my body is if I’m buying close to 100 percent of my meals, I put on weight.

I’m uncomfortable when I’m carrying an extra 10-15 pounds. I literally feel bad, so I usually hit the breaks when I can and work to get back on track.

Working out

I take 45-minute classes of cardio mixed with high intensity weight and plyometric training (“Sports Circuit,” “Total Body Conditioning,” “Burn,” or “Cardio Cross Training”) about three to four times a week, and hot power yoga (the Baron Baptiste style) about four to five times per week. On weekends, I tend to hike or walk an hour with the dog.

(The class in this video is a good example of what some of the classes are like. This instructor, Simon Lawson, was one of my favorites! He recently moved on to teach at the Fhitting Room.)

So how do I do this while balancing my job as a director of communications for a mid-size university in New York City? Truthfully: it takes a lot of planning but I admit I’m very fortunate:

  • I have a great job with a great boss and a great team. Communications work (public relations, social media and content news writing) is nonstop at my job, but we’re not a news media outlet that must push out news 24/7. We’re the public relations and marketing arm of the university. I have a wonderful staff that works hard, and a vice president who cares about work/life balance. While, for some, this means coming in early and leaving early to deal with children, for me, it means I gym during my lunch hour. A healthy staff is a happy staff!

So, I dip out for an hour to take a 45-minute gym class at New York Sports Clubs with a quick shower afterwards. I’m so glad my gym offers 45-minutes classes at 12:15p each day.

  • It helps that my gym is literally half a block away from my office. Like, no kidding, I can leave the office about 5 minutes before class starts (I change in my office before ducking out so all I have to do is walk into class and, ‘Go!’)
  • I take quick showers and get dressed quickly. I’m not one to wear makeup at work, so drying my [now shorter] hair is a cinch.
  • I often work after hours. I’ll go home after yoga, cook (cooking is key to how great I feel because I’m eating lots of greens and grains), and then hop back on email and Twitter to catch up with more work!
  • Important: FOOD PREP! No, I’m not the type to prep seven days of meals on a Sunday. But I do make egg or egg whites using a muffin tin on Sundays so my breakfast is taken care of. As for lunch, I prepare a hearty and healthy lunch by cooking it while I cook dinner. I’m talking lots of vegetables, a healthy grain like couscous, quinoa or brown rice, or a low-glycemic sweet potato & about four ounces of grilled chicken, tofu, or a half cup of legumes.
  • Having lunch ready means I don’t have to take a detour after the gym to buy lunch. The break room to nuke my lunch and I’m back in the office!
  • We depend heavily on Google calendar at work, so, for the most part, meetings are planned in the mornings or late afternoon. And when they have to cut into my midday gym time, that’s ok, too! 
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Incentive for extra WW “points” = food

So … why the yoga?

The hot power yoga (which I take at this amazing studio called Lyons Den in TriBeCa) has been key to improving my flexibility and eliminating aches and pains. Before I started getting into yoga heavy, I was dealing with frequent headaches and a nagging tennis elbow situation. Ever since getting into Bikram Yoga, and now power yoga, most of those aches are gone. The heat loosens my muscles, improves my flexibility, and challenges my mental stamina, while the quick pace of power yoga works my muscles.

Since the schedule at “the den” is constant, I can go any time from right after work, to 8 p.m. at night.

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Bethany Lyons is the founder of Lyons Den. [Images via Lucky mag]

OK, but what about time for other commitments?

Alright. I’m not going to lie. My social life takes a hit when I’m this “on” with working out/eating well. I tend not to want to go out to eat or go out drinking after work. Both of those things mess with my sleep, which inevitably f*cks with my weight, so I try and avoid them depending on how things are going at work. Right now, we’re super busy, so the social activities can wait.

Truth is, I’ve always been more of a weekend warrior when it comes to going out. I need to have an alert mind at work, so going out and cutting loose is few and far between. But it’s ok.

One thing I’ve learned while battling restrictive eating and an eating disorder in my 20s was to rid myself of dichotomous thinking, meaning viewing things in black or white. So if I get invited to a string of events in the coming weeks (and it WILL happen), that’s OK if I miss some workouts. It’s all about balance, which is something many of us struggle with.

I’m grateful practicing yoga has helped me with that, too. Hopefully I’ve helped someone with this post!

GIMME ANDEAN BEAR CUB!

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Photo by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

I’ve never been to the Queens Zoo. Now may be a good time to explore it!

An Andean bear cub (Tremarctos ornatus) born over the winter at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Queens Zoo has made his public debut. This is the first Andean bear born in New York City.

The male cub was born over the winter to mother, Nicole (four), and father, Bouba (six). Now weighing 25lbs, he is ready to venture into the zoo’s bear habitat with his mom to start exploring.

The cub has not yet been named. Exhibit times will vary until the cub becomes fully acclimated to its outdoor exhibit.

Andean bears are the only bear species native to South America. They are also known as spectacled bears due to the markings on their faces that sometimes resemble glasses. They have characteristically short faces and are relatively small in comparison to some other bear species. As adults, males weigh between 250-350 pounds while adult females rarely exceed 200 pounds.

The Queens Zoo is breeding Andean bears as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The cub’s sire, Bouba, came to Queens from a zoo in France to breed with Nicole, who was born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC and came to the Queens Zoo in 2015. This is the first cub born to this pair. There are currently only 42 bears in AZA- accredited zoos and only six potentially viable breeding pairs in the SSP population.  Queens Zoo Director and Animal Curator Scott Silver leads the national breeding program as the SSP coordinator.

Said Silver: “This is a significant birth for the Queens Zoo and the Andean bear SSP breeding program. This little guy may be adorable, but more importantly he reminds us of what we stand to lose when a species is in danger of extinction. We are excited to introduce the cub to New York and to share the work WCS and our partners are doing to save Andean bears and many other species in the wild.”

Andean bears are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Estimates indicate that there are fewer than 18,000 remaining in the wild.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has been working to study and conserve Andean bears in their South American range since 1977. In 2010, WCS and partners formed the Andean Bear Conservation Alliance which funds conservation efforts and supports knowledge sharing to improve monitoring techniques in the field.

 

Catch me at the Bronx Zoo this summer!

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Photo by Julie Larsen Maher / copyright WCS

Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

I go to the Bronx Zoo at LEAST once per year, but the return of these interesting guys guarantees a summer 2017 visit!

Critically endangered Indian Gharials have returned to the Bronx Zoo for the first time in 25 years.

Gharial are a slender-snouted crocodilian native to northern Indian subcontinent. They are classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Eighty percent of the remaining world population live in the Chambal River in India – the last stronghold for the species.

The Gharials have been added to the river habitat in “JungleWorld,” which first opened in 1985 and is one of the marquee exhibits at the Bronx Zoo. It is an award-winning indoor Asian rainforest that features several multi-species habitats that create a total immersion experience for guests.

The “JungleWorld” river already serves as home to turtles and fish native to Asia. White-cheeked gibbons, mouse deer, Indian fruit bats, painted storks and numerous other species of birds can also be seen along the river’s edge.

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Photo by Julie Larsen Maher / copyright WCS

Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

WCS’s Bronx Zoo is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays, 5:30 p.m. weekends from April to October; 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m all days November to March. Adult general admission is $19.95, children (3-12 years old) $12.95, children under 3 are free, seniors (65+) are $17.95. Parking is $16 for cars and $20 for buses. The Bronx Zoo is conveniently located off the Bronx River Parkway at Exit 6; by train via the #2 or #5 or by bus via the #9, #12, #19, #22, MetroNorth, or BxM11 Express Bus service (from Manhattan that stops just outside the gate.) To plan your trip, visit bronxzoo.com or call 718-367-1010.

WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit:newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.

 

 

Idris Elba in ‘The Apostle of Ireland’

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By Peter Stults

Peter Stults, creator of the “What If?” movie poster series that drop classic actors into modern blockbusters, tried his hand at a movie poster for a movie that doesn’t exist.

Enter: Idris Elba in “The Apostle of Ireland: The Saint Patrick Story”

I love the concept. Of course, I’d love Idris Elba to star in everything.

See more of Stults’ work here.

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By Peter Stults

 

Start-up culture:A Q&A w Milk Sugar’s Sam Dwyer

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 11.43.32 AM.pngI love milk and dairy products (cereal o’clock is one of my favorite late night habits), so I would be so upset if I were ever to become lactose intolerant. You can learn all about lactose intolerance, which basically forces some people to have to forgo most dairy here.

My mom suffers from this affliction and she has to spend close to $7 per gallon of Lactaid milk for her coffee. Well, now there’s a new product that claims to make your lactose intolerance a thing of the past.

Milk Sugar was invented by Brooklyn-based inventor Sam Dwyer. I talked to him about the product and what’s it’s like to invent a supplement! (You can buy Milk Sugar here.)
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Sam Dwyer
1) Why did you start Milk Sugar? 
Lactose intolerance is something that for many people develops in early adulthood, after you’ve spent your whole life eating dairy. I am a young guy living in New York City — I love pizza! It was so frustrating to give up my favorite foods!

I eventually discovered that I could take Lactaid pills with dairy, but they never made me feel good, and my beloved jerk room mate would make fun of me for being “lactarded.” I wanted to understand more about my body, so I started researching what lactose intolerance is — and I learned that while 10% of people with Northern European ancestry have problems with dairy, as much as 60% of our diverse US population at large has problems. But all Americans love eating cheese; on average we eat 34 pounds of the stuff every year.

What I realized was that Lactaid medicalizes, and stigmatizes, a common condition. If you’re lactose intolerant, there’s actually nothing “wrong” with you: it’s normal. So with Milksugar I set out to do two things: create a normal lactase enzyme supplement pill for normal people, and then also to… let nature in.

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What I mean by letting nature in, is that the psychology surrounding consumer products is tremendously important, because it effects how you understand yourself. The coolest thing, I think, about Milksugar is that the active lactase enzymes are derived from a cool Japanese fungus, koji, which in latin is called aspergillus oryzae. Koji is beloved in Japan, because it’s the secret ingredient for making sake and miso — it creates tons of enzymes, including the ones that break apart the dairy sugar, lactose, that gives us lactose intolerant people so much trouble!

I think that big corporations believe Americans are too wimpy to knowingly eat cool Japanese mushroom pills that help them digest dairy. I have a more optimistic view of my countrypeople: I think they will like to know! Because nature is really, really cool!!

2) What’s the best thing about being your own boss?

Well, I can sleep in and stuff. Also I can entertain myself with notions of earthly riches. I’m more inclined to think of myself as an entrepreneur than as a boss. It’s a distinction that makes a difference. I’m terribly impulsive; I don’t command myself, so much as I am drawn forward by curiosity and vision. In that way, I am a servant.

And that’s the best part — the freedom to pursue the dream!

3) What’s one of the hardest things?

Well, I’m not a rich kid, or in possession of vast savings, so there’s been some financially tight moments. How terrible — I have had to live off rice, and sometimes recycle my better-remunerated room mates cans for beer money. Oh, woe is me (I’m joking, although having money to go out is fun). It’s more seriously stressful to be late with the rent. Obviously, as a start up business with not too much sales volume yet I should worry about failure. But the truth is that I don’t.

In the back of my mind I have been preparing to do a project like this for awhile. I am very fortunate to have some truly amazing and inspiring friends, teachers, and investors who have walked similar paths. I wouldn’t be doing this without them.

The hardest task for me has been setting the correct expectations for myself, and remaining mindful. I can be very impatient, but changing the way an entire culture thinks about lactose intolerance won’t happen overnight.

That said, I think we can win.

Inspiration for your bedroom

… your bedroom style, that is! (Naughty, naughty!)

When it comes to interior decoration style, I’m basic at best. Clean lines, light colors, dark furniture. I would like to step it up someday, but I can admit it’s not my forte. I have two dear friends who kick ass in this department, especially when it comes to their bedroom style. Think fun colors and pretty scenes:

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Winter bedroom style by Michelle Christina Larsen.

The above winter wonderland bedroom is by Michelle Christina Larsen, a Brooklyn-based copywriter who specializes in fashion editorial writing and creator of Day Job Optional, a blog dedicated to helping writers  launch & grow sustainable online careers. She has a fashion school background, but something tells me she’s been decorating like this since she was a kid. You can find more of her DIY style on her style blog, Hey Mishka.

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Working from home is a cinch when everything is pink. By Michelle Christina Larsen.
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Disco bathroom, anyone? By Michelle Christina Larsen.

My other bedroom style inspiration is Charly Carlyle (a moniker, obviously) who is a psychometrician in her daytime career, but blogs about sex positivity when she’s not measuring medical research. She is TRULY inspired by bright colors and girly things, but she has a penchant for skulls, too.

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Who wouldn’t want to sleep here? And maybe do other things. By Charly Carlyle.
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Work is fun when your work station is pretty. By Charly Carlyle.
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Another view of that pretty Charly Carlyle bedroom.