It’s all everybody is talking about. The deep freeze across the country. The wordspolar vortex have probably been uttered more times today than at any time in history, perhaps breaking the record for frequency of 2-word phrases in Cyberspace and TV-land and trending in Twitterverse. Today was the kind of day when every conversation at the office water cooler and on the train and on Skype with the relatives abroad, every conversation seemed at first like cocktail party small talk as everybody’s focus was on the weather. 

And when I took out my bottle of water on the train to drink and rehydrate, people looked at me weird, with a look that translated to “Why are you drinking water? Can’t you feel how cold it is? Don’t you know we’re in the middle of the polar vortex?”

But there are things you have to do all the time, whether you feel like you want to or not. Hydration is one of those things. No, you’re not sweating outside like you do during the summer but your body still needs water to digest  food and hydrate muscles and transport nutrients to your organs. Although lots of people called in sick (or called inCOLD) today, your body is still working.

And if you did some stretches or ran in place to keep warm, or paced on the subway platform to help keep the circulation in your toes when it felt like your winter boots had failed, or even just because you did some unplanned weight lifting from the extra 10pounds of layers you wore today, it counts for something. You did a workout in sub-zero temperatures.

So celebrate! And have a drink of water! I did! 

This post appeared first on my blog http://runwright.net/ on January 7, 2014.

This is what I look like on Sabbath.

Saturdays are for church – for getting dressed up, forgetting about all the stuff in my life and just going to offer my worship and praise to God among lots of other people who want to do the same thing.

But tomorrow, I am looking forward to higher temperatures so I can trade in the high heels for sneakers, sequins for spandex, camisole for sports bra, and a fascinator for a head band so I can go out and RUN!

Part of being a Christian is being a good manager of the things God has given me – like my health. I want to do the best I can with those gifts and give God a return on His investment in me.

Today I rest. Tomorrow I RUN!

This post first appeared on my blog http://runwright.net/

It's snowing tonight. I should be in bed but I love to watch the snow. The plows are out every hour because this is NYC, the city that never sleeps, even at 3:45 a.m. there are people trying to get somewhere, by car or on foot. Even with the snow that's already falling and the threat of blizzard-like conditions later, there are places to go and things to do.

(Originally posted on my blog http://runwright.net/)
Good morning and Happy New Year to all. 

I know I am a little late in sharing my New Year's Resolutions and New Year's Goals but I totally took the first day of the year off. I hung out with my friends, did a little traveling to New Jersey and now I am back and ready to go. Full steam ahead!

So these are the 7 Resolutions that I will focus on for 2014:

  1. Run at least 4 times every week, minimum mileage of 12 miles per week 
  2. Be more organized. Get rid of some of the clutter in my life - physical and mental - to make room for something better (see post http://runwright.net/2013/12/31/give-so-you-can-get-something-better/)
  3. Stop procrastinating. Trade in the last-minute rush by asking for help and making specific plans for projects including timelines and working according to the schedule.
  4. Maintain regular contact with my family members - I am guilty of choosing other things and other people over my family, especially my extended family. This year, I want to be a better daughter, sister, aunt, godmother, niece and cousin. 
  5. Eat better. This is a resolution that will constantly evolve as I do the Daniel's Diet and my favorite almost-vegan diet that I cycle in and out of, and perhaps a juice cleanse sometime. More on that later.
  6. Utilize ALL my talents so I can develop others - currently, I can name talents for writing, teaching and severely-underused, fledgling talents for music and languages. Let's see what I have gained/developed at the end of 2014.
  7. Read more lasting things - I like to read news articles on the road but I should really invest time in reading more of the non-fiction books that I really love.
These are my 7 Fitness Goals for 2014:

  1. Run a sub-2 hr half marathon
  2. Run a sub-4 hr marathon
  3. Run races in 5 different states
  4. Run a minimum of 600 miles in 2014
  5. Run a 5K at a 7 mile pace 
  6. Complete my first century on my road bike - NY Campagnolo Gran Fondo or NY Century
  7. Bike a minimum of 500 miles in 2014
7 Resolutions and 7 Goals. 14 in 2014!

Notice the lack of weight loss goals in my lists? That's because I think that when you workout regularly and eat well, when you are not stressed from procrastinating so you have to stay up all night to finish a project, when you are setting goals and meeting them and you aren't hiding from your cousins because you missed the last 3 family events, when you are able to come home to a sanctuary because you've gotten rid of the junk that's been cluttering every available tabletop and corner and now you are surrounded by things you really love and really need, when you are happy and fulfilled and satisfied, then your natural weight emerges and whatever that weight happens to be for me, I will be happy with it. I just hope that it's a weight that allows me to wear my size 2 jeans :)

Happy 2014 all!(Originally posted on my blog http://runwright.net/)

“Give so you can receive” is a thought I had during the Christmas gift-choosing and gift-buying and gift-wrapping and gift-giving period last week but I wanted to think about it before I wrote. Why do we give? For Christians, we give because we recognize that God gave to us and if we want to be like Him, we also have to give – of ourselves – to others. And even for people who are not Christians, we have to give to others whether we like it or not. Wherever you live, the government decides how much of what you make is given to others in the form of taxes – to build and maintain social programs and infrastructure. So we all give, some more than others, some with a cheerful heart, some grudgingly, but we ALL need to give.

I think about something my grandmother used to say all the time when I was growing up, “The more you give, the more you get!” My grandmother (actually both my grandmothers were like this but I am writing about my mother’s mother) gave a portion of everything she got. When I was younger, I thought that she gave because she was confident in her support system and knew that she would never be in need so she could give it all away. But when I got a little older, I realized that she gave regardless. She gave because she knew that she HAD to give so she could get more, but not more of the same, she gave because she knew she had to give so she could get something better. This was one of the true epiphanies of my life. Give so you can get something better!

I experienced this with my friend and his daughter. He wanted to teach her about giving freely so he encouraged her to give away her Nintendo DS and she did. And it was a true sacrifice because she loved that thing as much as it is possible to love an inanimate object. But she gave it away without a real promise of a replacement. But when he saw that she was willing to sacrifice her favorite toy, he gave her a better one.

Give so YOU can get something better! You’ve probably heard about the open-hand concept. If your hands are tightly clenched around something you are holding, you can’t receive anything else. Because you can’t place anything in a tightly clenched fist, you need to have an open palm with which to grasp your new gift.

GIVE so you can get something better! My parents give. When I was a kid, I struggled with their generosity because I wondered if with all the giving, that someday they would give me away too. They didn’t, but they are still giving and the more they give, the more they receive. Give so you can get something better!

What do you want to get in 2014? Chances are you already have something in your life that resembles the thing you want. Maybe you just need to give away the thing you have so you can get something better, the thing you really want. I am not suggesting that you give away all your used clothes and expect a fur coat in return. No! Give of your best so you can get something phenomenal in return. I’ll take phenomenal over best anytime.

1. Do you have a talent that you aren’t using? Give it to your church or local group! How do you give your talent? By using it. The more you give one talent, the more another will develop. If you give your writing talent by writing announcements for your local church, you will develop your creativity. Voila, second talent developed. Give your musical talent by teaching a young kid the basics of piano or flute or violin. It will hone your patience and creative teaching skills and organizational ability. Voila, second, third and fourth talents discovered.

2. Do you have some spare change? If you live in a city like New York, this is probably a request you hear several times every day. But how often can you honor those requests? You can’t respond to everyone. But you can give what you have. I don’t like giving money to strangers on the train. In fact, it’s illegal to solicit on the trains so I don’t want to take any part of that, but you can give money to charities that help people who are down on their luck. You can give food to someone who seems hungry. As a closet fatty, I usually have some kind of food in my purse. You probably travel with candy or snack bars too. It wouldn’t hurt to give some food to someone who says they are hungry. And because in America, we are never too far away from our next meal, you probably won’t miss the food you gave away. And it won’t feel like a sacrifice when you’ve given it, because the idea that you’ve helped someone will make you feel incredible. So incredible, that you might become addicted to giving, just for that feeling you get in return.

3. Give to make room for more.

Focus not on what you are losing but on what you are gaining. When I did the Daniel’s Diet a couple years ago, and several times since when I have done vegetarian or vegan runs, my friends always ask me about all the foods I can’t eat. I always encourage them to shift the focus from what I can’t eat to what I can. Because embracing a diet plan is not about restriction. Yes, there are things you want to avoid but if you focus more on the wonderful things you are having instead, it feels more like a treat than a sacrifice. Yes I could focus on the fact that when I am doing a vegetarian diet that I can’t have meat. But how about considering that instead, the awesome fruit and vegetable smoothies that are usually expensive $10-a-pop rare treats from Jamba Juice, now that treat IS my lunch. Worth it!

When I fill my house with STUFF, because as a West Indian, saving things (read hoarding) is a part of my genetic makeup, I can’t have that nouveau chic empty-room look that is all the rave these days. Sometimes, I need to repurpose and regift so I can make room, literally, for the look I want.

And when I shift the context of that statement from real estate to my physical house, my body, sometimes I have to use some of what I have before I add more – use up my energy before I eat again so I am not carrying around excess energy stores (read, excess pounds). Give so I can get something better. Use up some energy so I can feel stronger and fitter. Give up that extra serving of stuffing so I can feel more satisfied with my diet plan AFTER the meal is over. Give up the temporary satisfaction that I get from eating the extra slice of cake so that I can get a better, more permanent satisfaction, the feeling I have AFTER the meal is over and my stomach isn’t begging me to loosen my belt, the feeling I will have when I step on the scale tomorrow and realize even with all the festivities, I didn’t gain any extra weight.

You have to give so you can get something better. Give up single-living so you can experience the joy of belonging to a family. Give up the nights out so you can be a mom. Give up sleeping in on weekends so you can volunteer at Pathfinders or Boys Scouts.

All throughout our lives, we make decisions. Decisions for now or decisions for later. Happiness now or happiness later.  Temporary satisfaction or delayed gratification.

In 2014, my encouragement is that we all have to make room in our lives for the things we want.

Give up something you have so you can get something better!
 ( I am now blogging at http://runwright.net/ Check out the new blogs there)

Picture12 gifts for the 12 days of Christmas
I haven't made time to write. Too busy shopping and re-shopping and rethinking all the gifts and buying backup gifts in case I can't get the gifts I have in mind.
I didn't make much time for exercise either but then I was also so busy that I skipped some meals and replaced them with sugar. 
Suffice it to say the Daniel's Diet is off the table temporarily. I just have to get back into the habit of eating regular meals at regular hours, instead of the Starbucks soy lattes and gingerbread hot chocolates I have been downing at odd hours to stave off late evening shopping frenzies.
The last few years have gotten hectic as my family and friend list seems to have grown exponentially, and one of the things that happen to you at middle age is all your friends and all your relatives now have kids and you want to "hook everyone up" with Christmas gifts but it's hard sometimes to remember everyone's likes and interests and get gifts for everyone without breaking your budget.
A couple months ago as I considered the impact that Christmas shopping would have on my budget, I dubbed this year the 3T Christmas where instead of store-bought expensive gifts, I would give of my Time, Thought and Talent. I planned to make gifts for all the people on my list, as a way to show my love through creative gestures. It was good in theory but the reality was I ended up making one gift... ONE gift, of the tens of gifts that I needed to give. So that didn't happen. 3T Christmas plan, failed!
I theory, I still think it could work but it requires such careful planning and timeliness that I don't know if it is possible for a procrastinator such as myself. The 3T Christmas is not something you can just wake up and accomplish on Christmas Eve, unless you plan to bake cookies or cut out stick figures of each of the people on your gift list. So next year, I will start my Christmas planning early. 
Like, really early. Like some of the backup gifts that I should return today, I might save in a box to get a head start on my shopping for next year. That would be kinda awesome except if I know myself as well as I think I do, I would probably still buy more. I'll figure something out. Eventually.
I was showered with gifts from my cousins, one of the best being an Orange and Ginger scrub - my all time fave aromatherapy scent, lots of lotions and perfumes and brooches, a locket from my 10 year old BFF,  and my adult BFF sent my mom an iPad so we could Face-time because he knew that the best gift for me would be time with my family. Awwww.
And the best gift I gave? I wrote my friend, a short story where he was the main character and in which the plot included the 12 days of Christmas. Then I gave him 12 little gifts based on the theme. It might have been the best gift I have ever given. I might retire from gift giving at this point. Don't know how I could ever top that. Hmmm. Challenge accepted. See what I do next time.
So, no runs to speak of. I've just been doing yoga at home and lunges and squats when I watch TV. 
Must run soon!
Also, today, I start planning my New Years Resolutions. I believe every moment is a new opportunity to start again but there is something about the New Year that inspires me to replace my bad habits with good ones.
2014 is the year to do things better.

Running towards my breakfast. What? Food motivates me. The prospect of an indulgent IHOP breakfast was enough to get me out of bed and running in muggy weather on what is really the second day of winter but with 70 degree temperatures outside, it's hard to convince my body that it isn't really summer. And in summer, running is what I want to do.
I went running with Paul. And yes, even though he hasn't run for months, he can still outrun me. Skinny people are annoying that way, or maybe I'm just mad that even though I braved running in wintry weather, anytime I take a break, I lose some of my fitness ability. Consistency is key. Breathing properly is necessary. Eating properly is absolutely essential. All factors that I need to work on as my training progresses. More on that later.
Today, we ran up the steps leading from St Nicholas Park to City College and I saw my old school in the midst of their biggest construction project yet. Impressive! Considering that when I started there, it was a big deal for us to get some new furniture in the offices. But that's a different story for another time. I am so proud of all the changes they are making. Proud to be a CCNY alum! Go purple and gray!
Ran 2 miles and ate only a half of the lowest calorie stuffed crepe that I could find on the menu and now preparing for the best shopping trip that the Target debacle and the resulting debit card caps will allow us to have and later, Fantasy Football's version of Superbowl Sunday.
And if the rain remains at bay, I might be able to squeeze in another run later, as I run towards my dinner :-)

Home away from home. I am housesitting at my friend's new apartment, to facilitate the Verizon guy coming in to set up FiOS and thinking "Smart TVs are really great!" 
One phrase I have said sooo many times over the years is, "The person who invented (insert name of an awesome thing) should get the Nobel Prize."
In the last 15 years or so, I have nominated for the Nobel Prize the person who invented the little case for my iPad that has the 2 way magnetic closure so when I open it, the tag isn't hanging out but just snaps back (genius!), the person who invented autocorrect on smart phones so you can type random gibberish and it assumes what you might have been typing and gives you (sometimes smart) suggestions, the person who invented the clip-less pedals on my road bike (that I can stay attached to my bike is a fact that still amazes me seeing that I still have scar tissue on my inner calf from where my feet used to slip off my pedal and I would constantly graze the same small area over and over and over), the person who invented the coin sorters in the supermarkets so every few months, I can throw in a big bag of change and get a wad of real cash that I can spend on anything I want without having to roll any coins in a piece of paper. But today, drumroll, please.... Today, I nominate the guy who invented the smart TV. Yeah, Yeah, I know. It wasn't a guy; the smart TV is the result of years of innovation culminating in a product that is still being refined and being perfected. But right now, I am in awe of the technology that is in front of me and I KNOW I am not alone. I know you're out there. You agree with me!
So, FiOS. Insert Verizon plug here. I wish it also meant inserting some Verizon advertisement money in my pockets but maybe later.
I love technology!
And while I house-sit in the mostly empty apartment, being amazed at how great TV really is, I am doing my day's quota of Pilates and eating fruit and planning my meals for the rest of the day. Because YOU HAVE TO PLAN FOR OUR OWN SUCCESS! That's my quote of the day. Feel free to borrow it, only give me credit, I ask :-)
Planning for success in my Daniel's Diet experience means having food on hand so I am not starving and cheating on the diet. It means bringing fruit along so I have snacks and don't feel like buying and scarfing down an entire can of Pringles. 
...and making plans for lunch that includes a tasty bean dish so I don't feel constant cravings for the fried chicken that is never far away in this neighborhood.
Pray for me!

Snack Plans
PictureL-R, Me and Samantha (summer bike-buddy)
Sunday. Wedding day. Well, actually the reception of the son of a friend of mine. I am 37 years old. How can I be already attending weddings of the children of my friends. Am I old? Am I middle aged? Hummph. I hope not. But is hope enough?
Actually, the groom's sister is also my friend and she is just a decade and a little bit younger than me so I guess I might be overreacting just a tad. Or am I?
But if this is middle age, I will be fighting it with everything I've got. I will not go gently into that good night. I will rage, rage, RAGE. And I WILL look great doing it! 
That's my resolution for today and the rest of this week. I resolve to look good to face my challenges. "Everything looks better when you're dressed up" is something my mom used to say when I was growing up. And I have learned you should always listen to your mother.

Today was a beautiful snow day and tonight is a beautiful snow night, now that I am safe at home and watching the snow fall from my apartment.
I love snow but it's best watched from the window when you're all warm and cozy inside drinking steaming cups of tea and eating Chinese food. 
In keeping with my Daniels diet, I ordered steamed broccoli and white rice for dinner.... And then I added some steamed chicken too. 
But before that, armed with the best intentions, I had breakfast at church. So many delicious choices but I only had a croissant, half of a slice of French toast and vegan sausage and tofu scramble and a couple Johnny cakes. Lots of carbs but I felt like I would burn it off sometime during the day. I probably didn't but... 
Tomorrow is another day to make better choices.