There are so many wonderful things about living in New York City and some consider it not only to be the greatest city in the US but also in the entire world. City living means having constant access to some of the best restaurants, greatest plays, most raved about musical performances, stunning ballets, and extensive museums right at our finger tips. You name it we got it, yes NYC is at the center of it all and for the most part we city dwellers want for very little, that is except for nature. Although Central Park is by far one of the most beautiful parks in the US, in a city of over 8 million people, it can at times get a little crowded. That’s why when New York Cares Urban Adventures said our next trip would be to an estuary, I was beyond excited to spend a day exploring with the kids of New York Cares Urban Adventures in the wilderness outside of the city.
Only a 40 minute bus ride from East Harlem is a little place called Alley Pond Environmental Center in Queens, New York. The center is over 635 acres of forests, meadows, ponds, and fresh and salt water marshes and is home to more than 300 species of birds and other wildlife. This sanctuary is where we spent a most beautiful day with the students learning about the estuary, marshes, and the creatures that call Alley Pond home. The first hour we spent in their leaning center where the kids were introduced to the Alley Pond Environmental Center resident animals including a turtle, a rabbit, and a dove which they were allowed to pet using the ever so popular “two finger touch” system.
After the kids spent some time in the APEC center learning all about what they should expect to encounter on our estuary adventure, we finally headed out to do some exploring. We spent the afternoon investigating the wetlands that surrounded us, walking through lightly wooded areas and along the edge of the estuary, admiring the new spring flowers as we made our way around Alley Pond. Afterwards we headed back into the APEC leaning center where the students drew pictures of what they had seen and then we finished the day with a picnic lunch under some weeping willow trees before getting back on the bus to head back to the city. Sadly, our next Urban Adventure will be our last one for the year until school starts again next fall but we are ending it with a trip to The Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park which promises to be a fun filled day of riding rides and playing games at the seasonal amusement park. Here are some pictures from our most recent adventure, enjoy!
I recently quit smoking and decided, in an attempt to keep any weight gain to a minimum, to get back to the gym and implement regular exercise into my weekly routine. Usually after the winter months begin to melting into spring, as I start replacing my cozy and lose fitting sweaters with more form fitting spring blouses, like clock work I would find myself dragging my feet to the gym to get back into shape. This year, after three months of going regularly 2-3 times a week to yoga, Pilates and Zumba classes, I have found, it’s taken a lot more time then it did in my “youth” to see any results. I am not one of those people who sometimes need to talk themselves into working out, I need to do it every time so not seeing the results I had hoped just made it that much harder to motivate and stay motivated to keep to me new exercise regiment.
Being in my early 30’s and having gained a little weight after quitting smoking, the results I was SO needing to see three weeks ago were nowhere to be found. I am not talking about having unrealistic expectations as I am a firm believer in the 1-1.5 pound per week rule, that is, if you are trying to lose weight and get in shape, the most you should expect to lose per week is 1-1.5 pounds if you are doing it the “right way.” Sure there are tons of crash diets, cleanses and now even a 10 day feeding tube diet that promises to trim off twenty pounds in ten days (yikes). Although these alternative diets may work for some, for most of us to achieve our desired results and make them last, sticking to a routine of regular exercise, healthy caloric intake, and realistic expectations seems the best way to go. That being said, getting myself back into regular exercise, improving my diet while realizing that my body wasn’t “bouncing back” as quickly as it used to, made it only that much harder to motivate to get back into shape. In need of a little more motivation to get back into shape this spring, I turned to Google to research some ideas and fun facts to keep in mind when trying to stay motivated. I thought i would pass them along to you, as well as a few other methods I have picked up from my own experiences:)
Ten Ways to Stay Motivated to Spring into Better Shape:
1. Make It Fun– Some people are runners, yogis, dancers, some prefer working out inside the gym, others outside, whatever it is, if you want to get back into shape pick an activity and local that you think you will most enjoy doing. Making sure you pick the work out routine that is right for you greatly increases the chance that you will not only start but stick with it.
2. Use The Buddy System– If you really have a hard time getting up and going, having a friend or coworker join you in your quest to get in shape will help you push past that initial “I don’t wanna go” barrier. Working out with someone not only makes it more fun but also makes it just that much harder to bail on your workout plans.
3. Make The Time– this one is especially important for me to keep my motivation to work out after a long day at work. If I get home and have to frantically rush to make my yoga or Pilates class the probability I will actually go gets cut in half. Fitting in fitness into your weekly routine should not cause you extra stress, if anything it should help eliminate it, so be sure you have plenty of time to get to your class or gym without having to rush.
4. Set Realistic Goals: Setting unrealistic goals is setting yourself up for failure. Don’t expect to lose those 10 lbs you put on over the holidays to magically disappear two weeks after you start working out again. There are many great tools online that can help you figure out what you should expect to realistically see from your new fitness and healthy eating regiment. If we expect the impossible from ourselves we will only feel discouraged when fall short of our expectations which will only make it that much harder to stick to getting back into shape.
5. Get OVER Your Fears– A recent study showed that women average less then 50% of daily exercise levels reached by men and two thirds of women who avoid exercise cited being self conscious about their bodies or athletic abilities as their reason for not working out. It is very common to feel self conscious, especially when just beginning to get back into shape. A little trick I use to get past these feelings of being embarrassed about my body or nervous I wont be able to keep up with my class mates is this; I look at myself in the mirror and say aloud, “I am doing this for me and although I may feel bad about myself right now, not going tonight (to class) is only going to make me feel worse.” That usually gets me out the door and on my way.