My friend Jenny has an awesome apartment, and when we come to New York City, we stay with her. It’s cute, compact, comfortable, and smack in the middle of Greenwich Village. I love it. But here’s the rub — Jenny’s apartment is a steep 6th floor walkup. No elevator, not even a rinkydink service lift. And it sucks. Especially if you overpacked and have to drag a heavy suitcase with you.

Visiting Jenny is super fun, but simultaneously a reminder of how amazingly unfit I am. Walking up those 6 floors, suitcase in tow, is a reality check. I get winded and then some. OMG the first time I visited Jenny, I thought I was going to have a cardiac arrest right between the third and fourth floors.

I’ll be staying with Jenny this week, on my road trip to NYC. So by the time you read this, I will have already faced the first (and most daunting) climb. But this time around, I’m not afraid.

Facing Jenny’s stairs feels like a kind of challenge to myself — a barometer to gauge how far along I’ve come. And maybe you’ve got a physical challenge of your own in your everyday life — climbing the stairs to your office, carrying heavy bags of groceries, going swimming with your kids, or keeping up with them at the park — something that reminds you that you’ve got limitations to consider. Something that reminds you that you’ve got a physical challenge to overcome.

I’m here to tell you, if I can do it – so can you. But it’s gonna take consistent effort, determination, discipline, and sweat.

Last week, my 50 Million Pound Challenge post was all about finding ways to make exercise fun, and that’s definitely half the battle. Once you find an activity you enjoy enough to do (for at least an hour a day, don’t forget!), then a new mission begins, and it’s a mission I’ve failed in time and time again.

Sticking with it. Making a commitment to myself. Being consistent in my efforts. It is WAY too easy to find a distraction from my daily mission, and almost-forget what I’m doing.

The important thing is to regularly remind yourself — why are you trying to make healthy eating and regular exercise a part of your life?

I am of the opinion, that if your sole motivations are to fit into a special outfit, or lose weight for a specific date (y’know, your high school reunion, a family function, a wedding), that’s not necessarily a plan that you’ll stick to. At the very least, setting plans of that nature haven’t worked for me. Short term weight loss plans have actually burned me in the past. Freaking out about a date looming in the distance never worked — I was almost certainly near my heaviest weight at my wedding. And I’d been agonizing over fitting into my dress and all of the relatives I hadn’t yet met taking photos of me for months before. Mooning over dresses that fit years ago makes me feel too much like Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream. It’s a recipe for crashing and burning. What IS helping me, is setting smaller, more accessible goals. Taking a more practical approach to my health.

Why am I trying to make healthy eating and exercise a part of my life? Because I was putting the brightness of my future at risk with an imbalanced lifestyle. Because I know now that it’s just as important to nourish and exercise my mind as it is for the rest of me. Because I don’t need to be daunted by a flight of stairs, no matter how steep or how high. I can do it! And so can you!

What are your particular physical challenges? And how do you plan to overcome them?

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Tdotcurlie says:
March 19, 2009, 8:13 am
I too am making some lifestyle changes to try and improve my health. Since moving to Toronto almost 8 years ago I have gained 35 lbs and developed some health issues that make my head spin. I have started eating more raw fruits and vegetables and nuts, eating less dairy and processed food. Now that spring is in the air, I find excuses to walk somewhere "far" for lunch or to buy something. I have gotten a couple of gym passes and am trying socacize classes. Already seeing some results and I am hoping I can stick with it this time around.
warrior11209 says:
March 19, 2009, 9:52 am
One of my challenges this year is to increase my aerobic capacity and I am doing this by training to jog/walk the More Half Marathon on April 26,2009. In addition to taking step/kickboxing classes , I am jogging during lunch and wearing a pedometer to track my mileage for the day. I am concentrating less on losing the weight and more on being fit , stronger and increasing my ability!
LBell says:
March 19, 2009, 11:16 am
Girl, I too have a friend who lives in one of those NYC walk-ups! Actually she moved from a fifth-floor walkup in Chelsea (SUPER-steep steps too) to a fourth-floor walkup in Brooklyn. Needless to say, her legs look great! My only major physical challenge is that I have next to no upper-body strength. Since starting my strength training routine (New Rules of Lifting for Women) I can now complete 10 push-ups at a 45-degree angle and maybe 2 on the ground. :D I want to be able to do at least 10 push-ups on the ground by the end of this year.
Love Is Dope says:
March 19, 2009, 11:45 am
Last year, I lived on the top floor of a three-story walk-up, I walked to work (.6 miles each way) and my job was on the top floor of a four-story building with NO ELEVATOR. Needless to say, I got a pretty good workout on a regular basis. I walked over a mile and climbed up a down a total of seven flights of stairs every week day. Now, I work from home in a building with an elevator. I'm a skinny minnie (always have been), but I really just felt better and more agile when I was getting in all that exercise everyday. I do yoga every morning, but it's not the same as getting out there and hitting the pavement. So, my challenge is to incorporate more walking/climbing into my everyday life. Plus, I want it to become habit, so that when I'm 60, I'll still be getting my power-walk on in the park. :)
Andy says:
March 19, 2009, 12:05 pm
Bella! Kudos to you for your comittment to your fitness goals! Keep it up! We'll read this post in a year and be so proud of you. I recently found that I love doing Bikram Yoga! I accidentally stumbled into one of the classes and once the sweat started pouring,it was the most exhilarating feeling ever! I have challenged myself to run a 10 miler in April and am having second thoughts. I will read your posts for affirmation! They are always so inspiring. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I run 10 miles but this will be the first time doing it with others. We'll see how it goes.
Moe says:
March 19, 2009, 2:05 pm
Welcome to NYC bella!!!!...enjoy your visit :)
ayankha says:
March 19, 2009, 6:41 pm
Very positive outlook on those steps. Last time I was in NYC, I stayed at an older boutique hotel and the elevator broke one day. So I had to climb to the 12th floor....after dinner!!!! They next time we went out and had to go back up we took a stroll before conquering the stairs. That helped. Exercising with a full or even satisfied stomach sucks. I hope you get as much exercise as possible and enjoy doing it. Off to the gym. ^aYankha
Seattle Slim says:
March 20, 2009, 12:56 pm
I am in good physical shape, but I need to tone up. Because of my height, my "fat" only shows up as "oh she needs to tone up a bit or work her abs a bit" thank God. I'm also of the body type that builds muscle really fast, really easily. I just have to "scrape the frosting" off my cake lol. I do this because I want to be in the body I know God wants me to have. I do this because I want to go into my 30s and 40s and beyond with the ability to run STILL or lift weights. I want to be strong and I want to cherish my body. That means working out, supplementation with vitamins, whey protein, essential fatty acids like Omega-3s. I want to fuel my body with the best possible fuel. Would you see a Ferrari getting tas at an AM/PM? NO! I believe in "temple maintenance" as well. When I was saved, I believed that Jesus lived in my heart (not figuratively but you get it). Wherever He is should be taken cared of. Well guess what? That's my body. Besides I love the feeling I get when I put my mind and body to work together. I love how my body feels brand new every time I drink water or eat healthy. One more thing. Do not think of food as forbidden, evil or bad. It is what it is. Just tell yourself it's good, but not as good for your "engine" as supreme unleaded ie veggies.
Seattle Slim says:
March 20, 2009, 12:58 pm
Besides it just seems counterproductive to be natural and take care of my hair, and not my body.
Janelle says:
March 23, 2009, 5:40 pm
First off, WELCOME TO NYC BELLA!!!!!!I can't wait to read your posts as you explore my city!! (sidebar: sorry the temperature hasn't gotten the spring memo yet! LOL) Secondly, I too have committed myself to a healthier lifestyle. The last time I lost weight it was an emotional loss - meaning I was stressed out and wasn't eating as I should. While I thought I was looking good becasue of it, my dear loving friends began to call me "crack pipe"! LOL This time around, I'm eating better, working out, even paid a trainer UPFRONT so I have no excuses. I know there is a healthier me somewhere in here and I know it's time to let her shine. As always, I wish you nothing but the best. If you want to know anything about what's going on in the city, let me know!
michelle says:
March 24, 2009, 8:03 am
trying to shake things up by taking swimming lessons. not only am i overcoming my fear of the deep end, i've discovered i've got a mean breast stroke! i feel like an amazon zooming down the pool! my shoulders are getting stronger and my core is tighter. this success is helping me to face my diet. my problem: my caloric needs are going down, even though i'm more active than i ever was i need less food. my stomach knows but my eyes are in denial.
Nancy says:
March 31, 2009, 10:53 am
As a New Yorker, brooklynite and Walk-up Queen, I think the way to stay in shape, is to avoid all the conveniences that make us soft... like the elevator, the closest parking spot, the taxi. I have to lug my groceries ten blocks and two avenues, so you bet my upper arms are more toned then if I just went to the closer corner store. Go out of your way, do more physical labor, and then you're excercising without even knowing it. says:
October 5, 2014, 5:19 am
Very descriptive blog, I liked that bit. Will there be a part 2?


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