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I am so excited!

The Healthworks Running Club kicked off this week and it was a hit! HOORAY!

On Monday morning, we had a group of girls meet at Healthworks-Cambridge at 8 am. They did 3 miles together and had a blast.

And then yesterday (Tuesday), we had another group meet at Back Bay at 6 pm. Yep, we ran in the rain! Everyone did awesome! Most people did 3 or 5 miles. We had a few who ran shorter but it doesn’t matter. The goal is to get outside and run!

I got really jazzed yesterday as we ran around getting ready for the run in Back Bay. I made big, loud announcements over the PA system. I  zipped through did my daily 100 crunches (had already done my daily 50 push-ups in the morning!) and made Hannah K. do them with me. (And she liked it!) There we are below, I’m in the blue.

I jumped around and gave fist pumps and cheers. I was high on running!

During the run yesterday, I chatted with Healthworks members; we talked about races and cross-training and why some people only run on the treadmill. I told some of them my story of how I became a 10-time marathoner, how it started with a single lap. They shared their stories with me. We motivated each other. We got soaking wet. It was so much fun!

So, we hope you will join us next week. Rain or shine, we will be there to get in some miles, fresh air and good company. If you’re nervous, don’t be. No one is there to judge.

Remember, the distance is nothing. It’s only the first step that matters…

PS Last week, we had a running club kick-off party at Healthworks-Back Bay, where we also toasted our Healthworks Boston Marathon runners. Meghan M. from traveleatlove was there and blogged about it. Check out her awesome post and awesome pictures.

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I haven’t posted in a long time. I won’t bore you with my many and varied excuses. There is no excuse, but there is a reason—lack of motivation. As my motivation has waned, my weight loss has slowed—chicken and egg here. Who knows which one came first? At any rate, lack of motivation has effected every part of my life. Not only have I not been blogging, I have not been going to the gym regularly, except for personal training sessions. (Thank God for them!) However, for the first time in five months, I cancelled training—not once but twice—and always at the last minute. Again there was always an excuse—not a made up excuse either. The difference was that in the first months I allowed nothing to get in the way of me and a training session!

The only thing I have hung on to with great resolution is my eating plan. I still never eat refined carbs or sugar and generally record my food intake as assiduously as I can. When that slipped a bit last week (I didn’t record anything for two days), I got scared. I knew that I was getting close to giving up altogether.

So, I am now looking for strategies to help me stay focused. One will be weekly doctor visits. When I started on this program, I saw the doctor every week for just 10 or 15 minutes. Then when things were going smoothly, he and I agreed that once every two weeks would work. When I saw him last week, we both decided that I needed to come every week again until I felt a bit stronger.

I continue to lose weight, but at a much slower pace. I’m now at 201 and waiting breathlessly to make my first goal of 199—what some Weight Watchers folks call Onederland! Motivation is slowly returning, but the exercise continues to be a challenge.

One good thing—I am now blogging again.

 – Cheryl

My parents have been in the process of cleaning out their attic.  While my mom has an almost militant anti-hoarding aesthetic, it seems that we have had years of birthday, Mothers’s Day, Christmas cards, and grade school papers filling up boxes with our history.  One document which survived was my fourth grade journal, which I recently reread.  I had to laugh at this entry:

Today I have track.  I don’t want to go to the meet on Sunday.  I am too slow.  It will just be a waste of time like at the last meet.  Even the third graders beat me.

Growing up, I was never a runner.  While I always participated in sports that necessitated you actually have to run, including tennis, soccer and skiing (which required dry-land training session), I was extremely self-conscious of my lack of running prowess, and was adamantly anti-running.  This may be because my dad and my sister made fun of me incessantly for the way my feet splayed to the side and flopped around when I attempted to run.  We’re a good natured-family; ridicule is part of how we express love (or something like that).  So, in front of them, I preferred to walk.  And?  Running wasn’t fun!  My dad has always run 3.5 miles, four days a week.  Who would want to do that?!

So, how did I turn from avid elliptical-er to somebody who craves a long satisfying run?  The voice of my fourth-grade self made me ponder.  It started in college.  I had been in a gym routine for a while and was challenged by my friend Jenny, who was on the cross-country team, to join her on a run around the campus.   She let me set the pace, and while I worried I was too slow for her, at the end of the 3.5 mile loop, she conceded that I had done a lot better than she had expected.  After this, the treadmill was integrated into my cardio.

When I graduated, I returned, less than ebulliently, to the New Jersey suburbs to live with my parents.  Let’s just say that the social scene was severely lacking.  I began to find challenges in the physical, and focused more on running.  I slowly increased the distance and pace I could run.  One day I passed five miles on the treadmill.  And suddenly, running didn’t seem like such an insurmountable challenge.  On the urging of my father, I entered a community 5k race.  My dad looks forward to race season with an excitement fueled by his OCD.  I was not sure I was ready to jump into that, but my time of 22:38 surprised me and was fast enough to win my age category (it was a small race… that time would get me nothing in a Somerville race).  I was officially hooked.

I am still uncomfortable with the self-proclaimed label of “runner.”  In my mind, runners are svelte and serious, they are women who know how to integrate speed training and strides into their training regiment, they are at least 5’9” and eat healthy all the time.  These concepts are sort of foreign to me.  I just run.  Sometimes I try to run fast.  Sometimes I try to run for a long time.  I have short legs, and lack the wiry thinness I associate with “natural” runners.

But, over the years, I have grown into the label, and while still reluctant to wear it for fear that I don’t quite deserve it, I will say that I want to be a runner, and want to become somebody for whom running is second nature. I’m just about there.  During my hiatus from running (hello painful stress fractures), the absence of running in my life made me realize how fundamental it had become to me.  I had lost part of my identity, and I felt mournful and lost.  These days, I sort of hate the elliptical, which I definitely utilize on my restrained low-impact days.  Yes, it’s a useful piece of equipment, but it’s not running.

I’m looking forward to this summer, the first running season in almost 2 years when I can set some goals and compete in some (fun!) races.  Stay tuned… I may need some help in training for those races from all those “real” runners out there.

I did not run the Boston Marathon. I never have, and it’s possible that I never will. That information doesn’t tell you anything about how I feel about this day, though. All I can say is that I love the Boston Marathon. I admire all the athletes who train for months to participate and the hundreds of volunteers working to make the event possible. I love the fact that people run this race in banana suits and Elvis costumes. I love the beauty of people running in memory of loved ones. I love the sense of tradition and the spirit of togetherness. There’s nothing like it.

Hannah and her friends waiting for the runners of the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon marks my one year anniversary of running. Last year, I ran alongside my dear friend for a precious few miles – the first miles I had ever run in my life. It was one of those defining moments that I know I will remember forever; I felt so proud to be a part of the day. And not to sound dramatic, but those miles changed my life. I trained hard to be able to run alongside my friend, to be there to support her. The Boston Marathon Expo is the exact place that I decided to train for my first half. Those few miles made me believe that running was the sport for me – the Boston Marathon made me believe that I could be an athlete.

Somebody recently told me that he believes in the power of connections between people. I stood outside today, cheering on both friends and complete strangers. My friends and I stood on the sideline in Coolidge Corner for 6 hours, cheering on the wheelchair racers, the elite runners, the qualified runners, and the charity runners. I screamed myself hoarse and made my hands raw from clapping. It doesn’t matter that I’m a spectator today – I felt as if I really shared something with thousands of people. I was a part of this day, and I connected with those runners. I’m glad I stayed to the bitter end to support the people who really needed a little encouragement (let’s face it, if I ever run a full marathon, that’s going to be me behind the street sweepers). Whenever you call out the name on somebody’s shirt, or yell something as simple as “good job blue shirt, you got this!” you can see the change in that person’s expression. Even if they don’t say anything back, they run a little taller, even if just for a moment. One man held my hand as he limped past me, and when he let go, he picked up his head and started to run.

I love how I feel at the Boston Marathon. I feel connected to this massive, world-wide community of athletes and people who care about the accomplishments of total strangers. I love that a race like this could push somebody like me to believe in herself. I love that I could share this day with some of my closest friends and running buddies, and simply appreciate the beauty of the challenge and the magnitude of accomplishments.

I love this day.

In 2 days, 21 hours, 44 minutes and 2 seconds, I will be at the start line of my 10th marathon!

One word: Yikes!

It’s been a long road to get here — one that began in late 2001 when a friend asked me on a whim if I wanted to run Boston in 2002. A friend of hers had an extra number and the boys we were to train with were cute, so I was in! 

I had no idea what I was doing — no clue about pacing, electrolytes, wicking fabric or Garmin GPS watches.

We just ran.

And I finished strong. I still consider April 15, 2002 one of the most glorious days of my life

Eight years later and 9 marathons later, I am here again.

I don’t expect April 19, 2010 to be one of the most glorious days of my life. But it will be one of the most important for a different reason. When I started running, I was not a runner. I was a chubby college sophomore who during freshman year, ate her way through the cereal bar and frozen yogurt bar and pasta bar at the Allison Hall dorm cafeteria at Northwestern. I ordered pizza from Papa John’s and warm cookies (delivered!) from Dan’z Cookies.

In the summer of 1995, I decided to make a change. I started power walking. In the fall, I got back to school and walked around the track at the fitness center. One day, as the Wildcats practiced in the center of the track (hey, they went onto the Rose Bowl that year!), I decided to run a lap.

One lap. One-eighth of a mile.

Over days and weeks, the lap turned into two and then three and then eventually, I ran a whole mile. It was hard and I hated it but I kept doing it.

I won’t bore you with every detail of my transformation into a runner but in November 1996, I felt ready to tackle a 5K. I  dry heaved at mile 3 of 3.1 but I finished. I liked it this time. I wanted to do it again. So I did.

The 5K became an 8K and then a 10K. In 2001, I decided it was time to take on the 13.1 — the scary half marathon. I trained and in January 2002, I crossed the finish line of the Naples Half Marathon in Florida.

The 13.1 miles became 26.2 miles that April in Boston.

I got hooked. The half marathon became two became three became 20. The marathon became two became 5 became 9. In 2006, I started running to support the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge. I wanted my legs to raise me — and to raise others — up. When I joined the Dana-Farber team, I told myself I would run for them five times and make it to 10 marathons.

And here I am.

I’ve told this story many times, to many people, in many settings. The moral here is simple: Anything is possible. You have the power to make change in your life. You can become whoever or whatever you want.

If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got. So, do something different.

I’m not going to lie and say it’s been an easy journey with running. Like many others, I sometimes love running and I sometimes don’t. While running has taken me to places like San Francisco and New York City and Nashville and Chicago, it has also taken me to the ER and marathon med tent more times than I’d like to recall.

I’ve had a challenging season this year motivating myself to do the work for proper training. There was a new job to start at Healthworks and a boy to spend time with and I was tired of giving of myself to the sport first.

But somehow, here I am.

Marathoning has changed me. Running has changed me. I am a better, stronger, kinder, calmer, tougher person all at the same time. I wouldn’t change that for anything.

To all of the marathoners — Head down. Heart big. Chin up. Run strong. 

— Judith

PS If you are not running on Monday and want to do some good in your own way, PLEASE try to help this 9-year-old girl who is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant.

Details here: http://www.healthworksfitness.com/pdf/urgent_appeal.pdf

PPS Looking for inspiration for next year? Check out this awesome marathon video from our friends at Task Rabbit featuring Healthworks Back Bay trainer Kate Cooney! http://vimeo.com/10957948

Recently my roommate, Rachel, played host for a Pampered Chef party.  Prior to the food demonstrations we snacked on different hors d’oeuvres that Rachel prepared with her sister, Beth.  Her sister, Beth, who is studying to become a nutritionist and who is also interning with Meal Makeover Moms , brought ingredients for sandwich “sushi,” a quick, easy and healthy snack.  I thought they were so cute and fun that I made a few varieties of my own for lunch this week.

Here are some guidelines to making your own!

Whole wheat wraps (rectangular – easiest for rolling)

veggies cut into strips (pickles, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, etc.)

Protein (slices of ham, turkey, roast beef)

spread (cream cheese, hummus, guacamole)

To begin, spread a layer of your favorite spread on top of the wrap.

Preparing the fillings!

Then place a layer of coldcuts down and put veggies on top in parallel strips.

Roll the wrap up together with the strips of veggies.

Roll everything together...

Finally, cut the wrap into 1 1/2 inch pieces and serve.  Enjoy!

How do you give your favorite snacks and meals a fun, healthy twist?

Voila! Yummy Sandwich Sushi!

Eating salad for lunch usually makes me feel good.  I feel healthy chomping on fresh veggies.  But not lately.  My discontent has nothing to do with my love for salad or a wish to eat something else for lunch.  It has everything to do with what others are eating.  What can you do when you see your friends making unhealthy choices?  Not much, I’ve realized – unless of course you want to cause a whole mess of hurt feelings and awkwardness.

I like to set a good example.  I am a first-born, so I have tried to be a role model to my younger sisters and brother.  I spent six years as a teacher who was constantly aware of the impression I made on my high school students.  And I strive as an instructor to show the women in my classes that I have a healthy perspective on food and exercise.  However, as a friend, my attempts to steer lunch companions away from fat and cholesterol have failed miserably.

The concern I harbor for the health of one friend in particular is something I may just have to let go of, or I will not be able to meet her for lunch or dinner dates in the future.  Am I crazy for not wanting to watch her eat a mayonnaise-laden sandwich and brownie for lunch when I know she is damaging to her health?  Recently this seems a constant struggle.  Yesterday, I felt like a snob eating salad at a lunch table where everyone else was eating pasta or sandwiches with French fries.  I enjoyed my salad much less simply because I was depressed at what was happening around the rest of the table.

I welcome advice on this topic, as I really do not know what to do.  I care about my friend.  I worry about her.  As a fitness instructor and her friend, I truly want to help her.  I want to see her happy and healthy with more energy.  But what can I do if she hasn’t asked for my help?

-Sarah

My name is Jesse McKenna, and I am excited to share my story with you! A year and a half ago I had a life changing experience. I traveled to Tanzania to live and volunteer at an orphanage. I fell in love with the children, but was overwhelmed with the extreme poverty and lack of health outside of the walls of the orphanage. I returned to the States with a new goal, to begin a graduate program in International Public Health,  which would provide me with the skills necessary to go out into the developing world and improve the health of disadvantaged populations. 

Jesse with three kids from the orphanage

I am currently in my second semester at Boston University’s School of Public Health. As part of my program, I am required to complete an internship, and have decided to return to Tanzania to work for the Foundation for African Medicine and Education, a health clinic that serves rural Tanzanians. I will be designing and implementing a health education curriculum for villagers who attend mobile health clinics.  I believe this internship will be an excellent way for me to apply the skills I am learning in the classroom to real life situations.

 While I have received one scholarship to help me pay for this program, I am still working to raise enough money to travel to Tanzania and pay for my room and board during my internship.  I am reaching out to members of the Healthworks community for assistance. If you personally or your company is interested in supporting me (no amount is too small), I would be incredibly grateful. I am happy to provide my resume, references, and contact at my internship for further information. 

Thank you!

– Jesse McKenna
Healthworks Cambridge Member
jessekmckenna@gmail.com

I’m seven weeks and three days into my job at Healthworks (not that I’m counting or anything!) and I love it….

I’m the new Events and Marketing Partnerships Coordinator. A rather fancy title!

What does it mean? I spend my days (and some sleepness nights) thinking: “What would members want? And how can I make it happen?”

I’m here to form and maintain awesome partnerships (one of our BFFs is Luna!), plan events, get you new, yummy snacks to try (have you ever had popchips? Or coconut water?) and help grow the Healthworks community inside and outside the clubs. I work out in all of the clubs, maybe you’ve seen me pumping my arms like crazy on the arc trainer or doing push-ups on the sidewalk outside of our corporate office on Newbury Street? 🙂

Our trainers love coconut water!

We’ve had a lot of great things happen in the short time I’ve been here. A sweet lululemon trunk show at Chestnut Hill. Two jump rope events — one in Copley Square where we had quite an audience! (And I learned that hitting a jump rope on the ground is a great anger management method!) We’re working with the Boston Blazers and runmyerrand.com and the Lyric Stage Company, among many others!

The convenience of having lululemon in your gym!

The restaurant club is coming back! And so is the running club!

We just last week awarded a trophy and cool prizes to the winners of the latest Fiona’s Challenge. These ladies lost more than 3 percent of their combined body weight. Um, sign me up! (Stay tuned for the next Fiona’s Challenge in June!)

We helping out at fundraisers and road races and charity events of all sorts — donating memberships and duffel bags as prizes. And speaking of prizes, Miss Fiona Fit is giving away some crazy good ones each Friday as part of her Fiona’s Freebie Fridays. (Are you following us on Twitter? Are you a fan of Healthworks on Facebook! What are you waiting for???)

So, I’m here for YOU! To make your time at Healthworks — and outside of Healthworks — more amazing. I want to hear from you. I’m just about the fastest emailer on the planet — not sure if I should disclose that but I will — so feel free to drop me a note at jforman@healthworksfitness.com with your ideas, thoughts, comments.

We can go for a run together. Or chat side by side on the arc trainer. Or grab a coffee. Or do some push-ups on the sidewalk.

And you can tell me what else we can do to make you love Healthworks even more….

— Judith

I had a meltdown in the middle of my class last night.  It was awful.

We were nearly halfway through an hour of step aerobics, and my choreography completely fell apart.  I was trying to lead the class through one of the same combinations we had done the week before – a really tricky combo, but a really fun one many had mastered the first time but which warranted another go-round.  However, no matter how much I tried, I just could not get it to work.  We were off the beat.  We had extra counts left at the end of the combo.  I was getting those confused, frustrated looks … I was ruining their workout!   I wanted to give up.  Right there in the middle of the studio, I just wanted to sit on my bench and cry like a little girl who flops down on the floor in the middle of the grocery store and wails an embarrassing tantrum.

Obviously I can’t quit in the middle of class.  I know that.  If you’re standing in front of a crowd giving a speech and your mind goes blank, you might be able to stand there for a few seconds gathering yourself, but eventually you have to go on.  I couldn’t just stand there in step class trying to get a grip.  I had to keep everyone moving.  The music was still playing and hearts still thumping.  I made them march and do jumping jacks and go back to the warm-up combo to keep them sweating while I mentally regrouped.

I’ve been teaching group fitness for nearly ten years, and it’s been a long time since I had a total brain block like I had last night.  I felt horrible!  Every Monday, I can’t wait for step class.  It is pure step: five 32-count combos built into one 60-minute workout.  I change it every week, and I love it every time.  Maybe I put too much emphasis on fancy moves and not enough on the exercise—back to the drawing board for next class.

I always tell the women in my classes that they can’t give up.  They have to keep coming to the gym.  They have to keep trying.  Last night it was the women in my class who kept me going and who reminded me that, even if I have a meltdown, they still got a great workout.  Whew!  So I might lose a little sleep about it, perfectionist that I am, but I’ll be back next week.  We have to keep going back.

– Sarah