Thursday, November 10, 2016

Heading to Las Vegas?

Getting your workout on while traveling, EVEN IN LAS VEGAS

I’ve been traveling a lot lately.

When I travel to a new city, even one that’s in my own country I love to explore it by either going for a run or an extended walk with no particular plan in mind, other than to breathe in and experience the city in the most visceral way possible.

In this way I’ve explored Paris, Madrid, Granada, Sevilla, Nice, Chicago, Rome, Florence, Spoleto, Quito, Philly, Orlando, and many other cities and towns around the world. It’s an awesome way to travel and appreciate what a city has to offer.

But what if you’re in a place like, say, Las Vegas in August, the hottest place on earth?

Doing a little T-25 in my hotel room
There’s the food, the shopping, the crepes, the shows, the people-watching, the burgers, the Bellagio, the casinos, the buffets, all the things you've found on the page, and the throngs and throngs of people milling about and enjoying themselves twenty-four hours a days, seven days a week, 365 a year no matter how hot-as-Hades it is. Is there even space or time for a workout?

When I was in Vegas this past summer to tape Who Wants to be a Millionaire for Teacher’s Appreciation Week it was HOT! Like 107 degrees hot. It was so hot, in fact, that I felt like I was melting every single time I stepped outside of my hotel and I actually like heat. Like, I really LOVE heat. But this was too much.

Did I mention it was hot?

So what do you do when you want to get your run on or do some exercising and it’s a brick oven outside? I’m 100% a fan of exploring the outdoors, but if it’s like you’re on the surface of the sun and your body is not acclimated to the extreme, dry heat of the Mojave Desert, maybe you can go with Plan B or Plan C or Plan D which is stay-in-your-room-until-it-cools-down-and-then-you-can-run-but-it-never-cools-down-and-now-you’re-screwed

If you are dead-set on getting your workout on, you totally can! Here’s what I usually do, wherever I go:

After a session at a swank hotel gym
  1. Once I get to my hotel, I drop my stuff of in my room and head immediately for the fitness center, if there is one. I generally exercise early in the morning, so I check out the schedule and make sure I can do what I need to at an insane hour. I also check out the equipment to make sure it’s in working order, because been there, done that.

  1. If the fitness center is non-existent or gross, that’s when Plan B comes into play. I work out in my AIR-CONDITIONED room. In Vegas, the rooms are nice and spacious, so I can move around and do what I need to do.
  2. To make sure, I don’t miss important workouts, I almost always travel with the following, especially if I’m not sure about a hotel’s fitness offerings:

a yoga mat and strap
running shoes
a running outfit (weather appropriate)
and if I remember, a resistance band

These things are all light, and except for the yoga mat they don’t add a whole lot of bulk in your luggage (unless you have a fancy, expensive, foldable travel yoga mat)

In addition, since I always carry my computer or tablet with me, I can also access exercise videos via Beachbody’s streaming service, Beachbody on Demand. So if I’m not in the mood to make up my own workout, I turn to Chalene or Shaun T and his fine self.

One time, I even tried to put 10lb weights in my carry-on and they were confiscated. Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either…

So I’m all set. If it’s too hot and the fitness center is not to my liking, I work out in my room. There are many things that I can do to ensure that I get my workout in--especially before I go out and get all sun-tired and Cirque de Soleil’d out…

I can do yoga on my yoga mat. There are tons of videos on Youtube so pick one and go! (My favorite series is Yoga with Adriene. I love her!)

I put together 3-4 sets and do 8-12 reps of the following bodyweight exercises:

  • Burpees
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Crunches
  • Planks
  • Jumping jacks
  • Push-ups
  • Speed skaters
  • Jumping lunges
  • Leg lifts
  • Mountain-climbers
  • V-ups

If I have remembered my resistance band I try to diversify my sets by adding some strength-training to the mix with the following (obviously not a complete list):

  • Overhead press
  • Bicep curls
  • Triceps kickbacks
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Chest press
  • Boxing moves (jabs, crosses, uppercuts, hooks)

You can create cool sets and supersets, or make up your own AMRAPS (As Many Reps As Possible), create stations in your room (or hallway if you’re brave), and/or get your intense cardio in by running up and down the stairs.

There are so many things you can do to keep yourself moving, even when you’re on vacation IN VEGAS. Working out wherever I go makes me a better (and more tolerable) traveler.

Do you exercise while on the road? How do you do it?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Having a negative body image day today? Read this...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016



I am at the point in writing my book, A Beautiful Work in Progress, that requires me to live, eat, and breathe it every single hour of the day...of course, while managing work, being a mom..etc, and doing events. My manuscript is due on November 1, and that is just around the corner!

So I am taking a short break from blogging both here and on my Women's Running Magazine Page. I'll be back though!

In the meantime, come and say hi if you're at either of these events--message me on Insta or on my Facebook page!

October 23: Tough Mudder Dallas

October 30: Marine Corps Marathon

November 6: New York City Marathon

Can't wait to be back blogging regularly! It's been too long....


Friday, September 23, 2016

The Fat Activism Conference

I'll be speaking at the ONLINE Fat Activism conference starting TODAY September 23 and ending SUNDAY Sept 25! Please sign up and listen to the great variety of speakers on all different subjects.  

My talk is entitled The FATASS BADASS ATHLETE and will be presented from 8:30-9AM Pacific Time on Saturday September 24.

Really hope you can join in!

Register for this ONLINE conference HERE


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Secret is Out

Well it's not really a secret anymore, but this big writing project that I've been working on and alluding to every now and then...I can finally announce! The contracts have been signed and I have already started on the journey.

I'm writing a book.
In none of my wildest dreams did I ever think all the good things could happen all at once.

I've been on TV a few times
I've been written about in a number of publications
I've had the opportunity to participate in a bunch of amazing events all over the country
I did a FASHION PHOTO SHOOT (Remember? Wildest dreams...)
I have a couple of high profile sponsorship/ambassadorship opportunities.

This one right hyeah, y'all. RIGHT HERE.

I'm over the moon again and now I get to WRITE MY VERY OWN BOOK. 

I've always been a writer, but I never imagined that I would be writing about my running life, or that ANYONE would ever be interested in it. I always thought I'd be writing a book of personal essays at some point after I had experienced some life. 


I hope that my experiences, fledgling wisdom and knowledge that I have accumulated over the past few years will be helpful to people considering becoming and embodying the athletes they already are. 

A Beautiful Work in Progress is scheduled to be published in October of 2017 which seems far away, but I know that in the blink of an eye that date will be here, staring me in the face as I await whatever is to come next. It's also my birthday month and the older I get, the shorter the years are so yeah basically this is tomorrow.

I took this title from a talk I gave to some middle school students at the Latin School of Chicago in January and thought that in terms of who I am and what I hope I represent, this phrase best describes all of the things that I endeavor for in my life's work, both in process and product, never allowing myself to forget the progress that I have made, and the fact that our raw humanity is indeed beautiful.

I am forever thankful to my literary agents Jane and Miriam at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management in NYC for believing in my writing and in my story, and for their extraordinarily conscientious and generous editing of the many drafts of my proposal. I am also thankful to Tanya Mckinnon of Mckinnon Mckintyre for having that initial conversation with my completely green self back in September of last year. I am also elated to have on my team, Margaux Nissen Gray, my publicist.who has been at my side since I started not being able to handle all of the requests for interviews, writing, appearances, etc. all by myself.  

And finally, I am grateful for the opportunity to be an author because acquisitions editor, Erin Calligan Mooney at Grand Harbor Press believed that I could actually bring this book to fruition and that it might be remotely interesting to some!

This is so exciting, friends. As I say a lot when I'm having a difficult time on the trail and I forget that I have the exquisite privilege of running that not everyone has, I AM LIVING THE DREAM! I have the exquisite privilege of writing a book This is my dream, and I am living it. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Updated on June 1, 2016: GLOBAL RUNNING DAY

If you're not a runner yet, you can become one today !
It's easy to become a FATRUNNER. Here's how:

1. Embrace the name.

  • Many times, nomenclature makes decisions for us. It's time to take the name and do something with it. Use it as a weapon, a sign to let people know who you are and what awesomeness you are about to achieve. LIVE IT. Be proud. Be active. And even though many of us are trying to lose the fat for health and wellness reasons, EMBRACE it and LOVE it. 

2. Decide to run. 

Tammi Nowack Photography

3. Look in the mirror and smile, even if it doesn't feel genuine. Sometimes, we have to fake it until we make it.

  • Thank your body for how it has supported you thus far. Make a promise to your body that you will honor and nourish it, as it has you. 
  • Have a favorite mantra? Now is the time to repeat it several times. I like this one from Christiane Northrup, MD:  "I love myself unconditionally right now."

4. Put on your running clothes

  • Do you only have sweats or jeans? Yoga pants or cargo pants? Have a favorite t-shirt that makes you feel and act fabulous? WHATEVER, they're running clothes so put them on.

5. Put on your sneakers, kicks, tennis shoes, gym shoes, wedges, stilettos, sandals, Doc Martens. Or not. You can run barefoot too. 

  • Shoes tattered and falling apart? Totally fine, because that's why duct-tape and Crazy-Glue were invented. 

6. Look in the mirror AGAIN and admire yourself for being a badass fatrunner.  

  • Repeat your mantra again, several times until you start believing it or until you start feeling crazy. Either totally works.

7. Leave your house. Lock the door if you're in Brooklyn.

8. Take a breath, or several if you're asthmatic. (Maybe you should take your inhaler too...)

  • Seriously, there are a lot of people out there with asthma and sometimes this makes us scared. Talk to your doctor about exercising beforehand. If they discourage you from exercising without trying to find a safe balance for exercising, find another doctor. Our bodies were meant to move and there are tons of successful athletes dealing with asthma.

9. Take a selfie to record this momentous occasion--YOU KNOW YOU WANNA POST THIS ON INSTAGRAM!

10. Run. 

  • Run-walk. Walk-run. Run to the lamppost. Breathe. Take another selfie. Run. Again.
Originally posted in March 2015

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Haters Gonna Hate: A Rant

Here's a little glimpse into my head from March 3, 2014

I'm fat and I'm a little bit angry.

I'm pretty much in love with my body. It can do so much that it couldn't do years ago.  And if I am able to continue what I am doing now for years, it will continue to surprise me and reciprocate the love that I have given it over my lifetime. Sometimes, I get disappointed or angry with it, but like any long-term, committed relationship, it usually comes right back to love and respect.

Also, and thank goodness for this, I didn't grow up in a body-dysmorphic family culture where girls are encouraged not to eat too much, or to worry so much about their appearance that it blocks them from being who they are. I am so thankful for this.

So this post is for all you haters out there. And let me apologize on BEHALF OF YOU to YOUR BODY, for you projecting your own insecurity and feeling of inadequacy on others. I don't typically waste mental energy caring about what other people think of me or other fat people. But sometimes, the hating comes in waves and it has to be dealt with. I don't always have a snarky comeback, but some level of snark is definitely deserved, even if it comes days or weeks later.  Here are some things that people have said to me, either to my face or behind my back, or to others along with some of my actual or imagined responses:

For as much as you work out you should be thinner, don't you think?
No, why?
Because you have some preconceived notion and idea of what it means to be fit and flippin' fabulous?
Because you haven't bothered to get off the couch?
Don't get me started.

You run too much. All you do is run. You run in the woods. You run in the rain. You run in ALASKA. Do you ever think about doing anything else? 
Yeah. Like, I work. I raise my kid (along with my hubby.) I read. I write. I travel. And yeah, I run because I like doing it. Have you not found something that you love doing whenever possible? Something that nourishes you and renews you? No? Sorry but not sorry.

You might wanna stop running so much. For a big girl like you, you may be better off on the elliptical or like, playing tennis.
Why are you so concerned? Last time I checked, getting any exercise is better than getting no exercise. Do you know what's more dangerous on the knees and heart? Not doing anything. And by the way, my joints are just fine. But my brain hurts trying to explain basic shit to you.

Wait. You're black. 
Not this again, and yep, I am.
Guess what black folk? White people don't own the outdoors. No one does, in fact, except for Mother Nature. No one owns your health and well-being, except for you. I'm really sick and tired of black people from ALL socioeconomic strata saying to me or to others who spend considerable time outdoors, "WE don't run in the woods. You know, because of..." Because of WHAT? Have we forgotten who our ancestors were and how they lived?

What part of health are we not understanding? Have you looked around lately and noticed that we are DROPPING LIKE FLIES (and I mean dropping dead) because of heart attacks, complications with diabetes, hypertension, and general obesity related illnesses? So why berate ANYONE who is out there doing their thing, fighting preconceived notions about what it is to be black and to be healthy? Let's get out of this mindset. It's not only hurting us, it's killing us.

Read this for further commentary.

Don't you feel weird going into a gym-you know, cuz everyone's a size zero and you're not?
Thanks for pointing out the obvious. So perceptive of you.
What gym do YOU go to? That apparently is not my gym because although my gym has its share of meat-heads, there are tons of different body types, goals, people, sizes. Dud/ette, get out of your house. And another thing, when I walk into the gym, I OWN IT. I rock those machines. I have a good time and don't EVER worry about haters like you.

Wow, you're really hungry.
Yep. That would be because I just ran 20 miles. What did YOU do today? Right.
Also, I love food, and I'm not going to let you make me feel bad about enjoying and partaking in nourishment. Unlike a lot of people, I don't starve myself to fool people into believing that I care about what they think about my body. Never been a part of who I am, and sorry for you, never will be. Next topic.

And this:

Have you gained weight? 
Let me say this: It is never a good idea, in fact it's downright inappropriate to ask someone IF THEY'VE GAINED WEIGHT unless you're their WEIGHT LOSS SPECIALIST. Or someone who has embarked on a weight-loss mission with them. It is never your right to ask something so personal or potentially devastating no matter what your relationship. And also, comments about what a person eats. Same rules apply. 

You run really slowly
Yep. But have you done a marathon? Yeah, didn't think so. Next comment. (Even if you have run a marathon, why are you concerned about my pace? How does it affect your life? It doesn't, right? Moving on...)

This one was from a woman I sat next too on the Super Shuttle to the cruise terminal in Seattle. We had started up a conversation about what cruises we were doing, etc...

Well, how many marathons have you done? (I have now done 7 marathons and 7 ultras as of May 2016)
Four so far, plus an ultramarathon. I'm hoping to do many more. I really like marathons.

Well I've run over 150 marathons all over the world. You'll get tired of them soon enough. So what else are you doing to lose weight?
Um, I'm not really trying to lose weight. I just love to run.

I really have no comment for this, except for, it made me a little sad.

 One more thing. I'll let the screen-shot speak for itself:

Here's my final commentary to all you haters out there:

There are many of us dealing with the repercussions of a fat-shaming society. We don't need YOU to remind us that we

1) are not an idealized version of what a human is supposed to look like according to unattainable and simply unrealistic beauty/being standards.

2) don't look like the Nike models or the Fit Magazine models when we are working out and doing our thang. We don't care, but why do you care so much?

Just because we're working out, running, or god forbid doing Zumba, it does not mean that we have a problem with our body image. When you allude to that in your thinly veiled criticism masquerading as compliments, it simply means that YOU have a problem with YOUR body image. Get some help.

In the end, we love ourselves and our bodies. Maybe not all of us are fully aware of this, but we do. If we didn't love our bodies, we wouldn't be doing this.

That's all.