Explore NYC: City Walks

Apparently in some areas of the country summer has forgotten to arrive – I’m looking at you Minnesota! Not so here in NYC. We’ve had some incredible weather and absolutely lovely weekends. Once the weather warms up I am like a kid who just got out of school, I want to be outside as much as possible. I love to pack the summer weekends with fun excursions – beach trips, picnics, festivals and tons of extremely long walks.

One of the things I love most about NYC is how incredibly walkable it is. Despite being home to more than 1.5 million people, Manhattan is only 13 miles long and  about 2 1/2 miles wide at its longest point.  Even Brooklyn, our home and favorite borough, is much smaller than you would expect. I know from experience that you can make it from the Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island on foot in just a few hours.

A few years ago my Mom, one of my best friends and I decided to participate in a 3 Day, 60 mile walk for breast cancer. 60 miles in a long weekend is quite the feat and it requires a fair amount of training. Because neither of my teammates lived in NYC, I needed people to walk with. I stumbled across a group of people training for 3 Day events and began to walk with them on the weekends. Despite having lived in NYC for 6 years I felt like the city opened up to me. I figured out that nothing was really that far apart. If I was willing to strap on some tennis shoes and stay hydrated I could explore a ton on foot. One of my favorite training walks started at Penn Station and continued down the West side of Manhattan, across the Brooklyn Bridge and all the way to Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand on Coney Island. It was a whopping 21 miles and over the course of the day I got to see all sorts of New York neighborhoods I didn’t even know existed.

I’m no longer training for the 3 Day, but that summer changed me. I love to get out and explore NYC on foot. This last weekend Andy and I met up with our old 3 Day crew for a “short” training walk. This time we only walked from Penn Station across the Brooklyn Bridge, ending with pizza in Brooklyn Heights – a total of about 10 miles.

Along the way we explored the Highline, Manhattan’s elevated park located in Chelsea:

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Caught a glimpse of Lady Liberty (she’s little but she’s there!):

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And struggled through the crowds of tourists on Brooklyn Bridge – no matter how many times I walk across this bridge I never cease to be amazed.

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If you’re visiting NYC for a few days, just moved to the City or even if you’ve lived here for years I encourage you to take a half day and see how far you can walk – if you get tired out you can always grab a cab or jump on the subway, it’s like magic! Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes (As I’ve said before, I can’t recommend my Newtons highly enough!) sunscreen and a bottle of water. With those safety measures covered you should be all set for an amazing adventure.

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Getting Moving

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with my weight.  Not so much with losing weight.  I am really good at losing weight.  The problem is I am even more proficient at gaining weight.  The truth is that if calories were not an issue I would routinely choose to eat completely terrible food all the time.  I’m not talking Burger King or McDonalds, but I am talking homemade burgers, tons of desserts, ice cream and bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches every day of the week.  Couple my natural lust for all things fatty and delicious with a scary habit of comfort eating when life gets a little stressful and I wind up gaining and losing the same thirty pounds over and over and over again.

I’ve recently re-entered “weight-loss mode.”  What that means in my household is a re-commitment to cooking healthy homemade meals and an increase in exercise.  I am lucky enough to have a star Weight Watchers leader for a sister so I also use the WW program as a guide for my daily food intake.  My sister recently reintroduced me to WW’s latest weight-loss tool – the ActiveLink fitness and activity monitor and I am in love.

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This little gadget is amazing.  Technically speaking it is a 3-Way Accelerometer, which means it tracks the body’s motion forwards and backwards, up and down and side to side.  Effectively what it does is measure and track your movements throughout the day.  After a short assessment period it allows you to set a goal to gradually increase your activity level over several weeks.  With a simple glance at the monitor you can get a rough estimate of your movement during the day.  By  plugging it into your computer (it’s actually a USB drive, crazy!) you can see a detailed hour-by-hour or minute-by-minute breakdown of how much you are moving – below are examples from my day yesterday.

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Let me tell you – this  baby is the most inspiring fitness tool I have discovered in ages.  It might be that I am completely Type A and love a good goal, but I am 150%, totally, completely obsessed.  I love to watch my progress throughout the day and I find it incredibly satisfying to meet and exceed my goals for each day and week.  (My sister the WW Star has been warning me that my goals may be a little low if I keep exceeding them.  She may have a point, but I’m so happy with the satisfaction that I’m not willing to up them quite yet.)  I find myself doing crazy things to up my activity level – running the stairs in my apartment building, standing while working, even doing jumping jacks in the living room.  The most interesting thing that I’ve discovered is that a workout alone is not enough to meet my goals.  I have a generally sedentary job and if I don’t make a concerted effort to move during the day even a killer workout won’t put me over the top.

If you’re thinking about getting more active I would highly recommend the Active Link.  If you aren’t a WW member there are also several other options although I can’t personally vouch for them.  I’ve heard great things about the FitBit and Up by Jawbone.  Have you worn a fitness monitor?  What are your favorite tricks for getting more active?