Thursday, January 28, 2010
I'm lucky in that I don't exactly struggle with my weight. This does not mean I'm always happy with my body (curse you, media, you cults of youth and celebrity!!), but I have to be honest and admit that the issue is predominantly in my head. Sometimes I don't feel as thin as I'd like to, and I'm certainly not the beanpole I was until high school, but I'm a reasonable weight for my height. The Wii Fit balance board appreciates my BMI, my doctor is fine with what the scale reports, and everything seems to be holding steady.
That said, you may have noticed that I eat a fair amount of junk. I have a sweet tooth AND a savory tongue. I like salt and brine and sugar and peanut butter and fruit and vegetables and butter and . . . oh, almost anything. I also have certain couch-potato tendencies, a job that allows me to sit much of the day, and a number of sedentary hobbies (including writing these blog posts). So, in several respects, I could be a lot healthier. And fitter. And stronger.
My doctor asks me every year at my annual checkup if I am getting 30-45 minutes of cardio 3-5 times a week. She also mentioned once that she would like me to be a bit more flexible. Every year, I say I'm working on it. This is true. However, this year I am working on it much more seriously than I ever have before. I made myself a promise early this winter that I would aim to build healthier exercise habits (and not focus on whether or not I lose a few pounds of fat). I am interested in muscle and strength and endurance and less neck/back pain.
To this end, I purchased a 2010 New York City Yoga Passbook. For about $80 (the cost of 4-6 classes without the passbook), I received a book containing hundreds of coupons good for free classes in yoga, Pilates, the Alexander Technique, and more. This month, I began to use these coupons, which expire at the end of the year. It's my goal to take at least 40 classes over the course of 2010, in addition to doing other "fitness-y" activities.
I thought that I might as well post a quick summary of each place I visit here, in case you're either (1) interested in trying the passbook out for yourself (Chicago, Houston, and LA also offer them through the website) or (2) someone in NYC who is looking for more information on local studios, teachers, and classes.
And, of course, to keep things snack-related (or, at the very least, snack-adjacent), I'll let you know what I'm eating after each workout. Let's see if working out inspires healthier snacking post-exercise.
I'll begin with the two passes I've used since the beginning of January.
Pass 1: Two Pilates classes (Basic Mat) at Core Pilates NYC (Union Square)
Date(s): 1/13; 1/27
Instructor(s): Jo D'Agostino (for both classes)
Thoughts: I liked this Pilates teacher and her classes. She had a good energy and could speak quickly, explaining the moves thoroughly as we were doing them, which made the breathing patterns easier to follow. The first class was better than the second, but I'm not sure why. The flow seemed a little interrupted in the second class; perhaps it was me.
Core Pilates is a tiny place, but it's clean and modern. The woman working behind the desk was friendly and helpful on my visits. This is a studio and class I'd return to, especially given how conveniently located it is, just two blocks from the Union Square/14th Street subway station.
Post-Workout Comestibles: Radish salad (made by Dan) after the first class; chocolate milk, pita chips, and then an arepas dinner (made by Melanie) after the second.
Pass 2: One private lesson in the Alexander Technique
Thoughts: I knew next to nothing about Alexander before this lesson, but it's been recommended to me as a method that is good for posture and the spine, as well as rehabilitation. It's not really exercise, but I felt like it easily qualified as "fitness."
The Alexander Technique is something that's as much about thinking and focus as it is about doing anything. For example, we spent several minutes while I was lying on my back on a massage table during which the teacher coached me as I tried to, per his instructions, mentally "wave goodbye" to my first and second toes while thinking into my other three toes -- all this in order to un-sickle my feet.
The Technique felt a bit mysterious and frustratingly "magical" sometimes, but the teacher assured me we were making progress. I plan to take another class or two from other teachers to compare.
Post-Workout Comestibles: Chips and salsa at Papacitos', and then fish tacos. I was ravenous!
By the way, I am also taking a 90-minute yoga class taught by Laura, a friend of mine. She's offering the class almost weekly in my neighborhood, so it's very convenient. She's also a great teacher for all levels. I'm a yoga beginner, and this is the first time I've felt comfortable in a yoga class.
You know what's odd? While in a pose during the most recent class, I actually found myself thinking, "I don't need very much food to live! My appetite is gone! This is the start of a whole new relationship with food!" This turned out not to be true once the exercise high had worn off. After that week's session, I drank a chocolate milk and ate a banana, the combination of activity and refueling feeling just right [Chocolate milk never seems so luxurious as it does after exercise. Apparently it's a great post-workout snack].
My point is, just for a second there, this blog seemed doomed in the face of my fleeting spiritual enlightenment and quest for health. What's next?!