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Sunday, March 31, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

I just spent six days with my family in Manhattan exploring a city I’ve never known.  I was there once a long time ago visiting a friend for a few hours.  I remember nothing from that long ago trip but the walking and the bagels.  Turns out both are still there.

I thought I’d share my thoughts about fitness in Manhattan.
Things that keep New Yorkers fit:

Walking:  Despite a truly amazing subway system, one we took advantage of daily, there are still miles and miles of walking.  My friend Donna Walker told me she walks in New York if it’s less than 20 blocks.  That’s probably a good rule of thumb although there were long days when we probably took the last train home for less than twenty blocks. My aching feet reminded me that I had hours and hours under my belt.
Stair Climbing:  Even if you take the subway, there are still dozens of stairs and the escalators are broken more often than not.  So taking the subway often trades a long walk for short bursts of stairs, both up and down.  We often found ourselves on the 7 train in particular, and I can assure you that it is 75 stairs down or up to that particular track, the deepest one in the system.

Calorie Counting:  At many of the restaurants you’ll find calories clearly listed on the menu.  (Mayor Giuliani at work.) At the movies last night I noticed that nachos and cheese are a staggering 1600 calories.  My son’s favorite burrito at Chipotle is more than 1200.  It definitely makes you think about what you are eating and consider swapping your first choice for something healthier.
Delis:  There’s a deli and a Starbucks on every block, but the delis are not what you think.  They offer huge variety, from steam tables of Chinese food, to salad and fruit bars by the pound.  You can grab quick snacks like nuts, protein bars, and dried fruit and there is always fresh fruit right near the register.  You can actually have a sandwich made as well.  It’s quick and easy, reasonably priced, and offers lots of healthy choices. Interestingly, candy bars are mostly sold at the magazine and cigarette stands. 

Things that keep Manhattanites chubby:
Food carts:  There’s one on every corner of the downtown areas and the choices are not at all healthy. 

Lack of open spaces:  Running in New York is nearly impossible.  Even Central Park is pretty crowded.  Cycling is a death wish.  I only saw one health club, although I am sure there are more.  I would be hard-pressed to be a triathlete in Manhattan. 
Grocery Stores:  I never saw one.

Cream Cheese:  Bagels are truly delicious and there are a million bagel shops.  Every single one had 20 flavors of delicious cream cheese, and unless you ask for it on the side, you’ll get about a quarter cup on any bagel you order.  Delicious, yes.  Artery hardening as well.
Pizza:  It’s just so good and by the slice.  It’s easy to eat it every day. I reluctantly admit this is a bad thing.

I am so grateful that I am home writing this from my recliner.  I am so looking forward to falling into my own bed and sleeping long and deep.  I can already feel the humidity opening up my sore nasal passages.  The high was 50 degrees in New York. Tomorrow I will enjoy the beautiful sunshine in a tank top as I walk around campus.  I bet it will feel easy after this week.  Tuesday I will swim outdoors and head to my gym to lift some weights.  I will go for a ride on Wednesday on our magnificent bike trails and am reasonably confident that I will not encounter a taxi. 

The lessons from this trip are clear.  I should walk more.  I should cook more.  I should spend more time outside.  I had a spectacular trip, but I am reminded, there’s no place like home. 

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