May is Spring Into Fitness Month here at BCL. Below, you'll find the inspiration behind our month-long wellness initiative. To skip the story and get straight to the deets, scroll down to "What Does This Mean?"
by Jenni Walkowiak
It started around 2 PM on a Monday in April. I had been plugging away all day, working on projects for BCL, getting up only to make coffee or check for mail. I was feeling foggy, run down, sleepy, and was having trouble focusing. This wasn't an uncommon occurrence for me. In fact, I generally feel this way around 2 PM every weekday. It's when I get up from my desk and get my afternoon coffee fix, or worse-- I reach for a Snickers. But this particular day around 2 PM, the sun was shining outside. I could see it through the window looking up from my desk. I thought about how nice it would feel to step outside, just for a minute or two and stretch my legs and catch some fresh air before entering into the last three hours of my work day.
A little about me: I am a moderately active person, who in the last four years has lost 120 lbs of excess weight. Even at my heaviest of 300 lbs, I enjoyed hot yoga most mornings before school and worked at a residential summer camp where I played running games, went hiking and rock climbing. As a musical theatre major in college, I was involved in dance-heavy productions, took movement classes and rode my bike to school every day. Staying physically active has always been important to me, but since losing the weight I have been even more motivated to keep it off and hopefully lose a little bit more.
I started running just about two years ago and have since finished four half-marathons, one full marathon and soon I will begin training for the New York City Marathon this fall. I believe that having goals, tools, and support in my physical and mental wellness have helped me maintain control and focus in all areas of my day to day life.
Before coming to work for BCL, I worked a very active job as a barista at a local coffee shop that only used one employee per shift. Because of this, I spent my typical workday dashing back and forth behind the counter and running up and down stairs to retrieve supplies from the basement, sometimes carrying two 5 gallon buckets of ice at a time. I often bragged about my ability to carry six gallons of milk in one trip (though that could be due to my giant hands... I kid... a little). That and I always had time to go for a run either before or after work.
Since coming to BCL, I've struggled to assimilate to the 9-5 Monday-Friday schedule and the far more sedentary position. Sure, I'm still making coffee, but there's an elevator! And we have fancy little hand trucks to help carry heavy things. Not to mention that the majority of my day is spent sitting at the desk, answering the phone, sending emails, writing blog posts, or pushing the button to open the door. It's much harder to convince myself to get out of bed early enough to have time to work out, shower and be ready to be at work by 9 AM. By the time the day is over at 5, I'm so exhausted I just want to go home and curl up in bed with a good book. And by book, I mean Netflix, who am I kidding.
With summer fast approaching, I knew I needed to make some changes. As someone who has lost a significant amount of weight, I can tell you that the first thing that needs to happen to make any sort of positive impact: change your habits. If I want to be someone who can get up early in the morning, work out, go to work looking half-way decent, work hard all day and still go out for happy hours after work (or run to my second job as an event photographer) then I am going to have to make some serious lifestyle changes. And I don't think I'm alone.
I BELIEVE IT CAN BE DONE!
I believe that the mind and body are intrinsically connected. That when one fails, the other fails too. I believe that what we put into our bodies is as important as everything else. We have to fuel our bodies with the right food, nourish our bodies with sleep and exercise, exercise our brains with literature/crosswords/conversation and only then can we be our most productive selves. A machine can't do it's job if one or more of it's pieces are broken.
It is all of this that inspired Spring Into Fitness Month. A month dedicated to jump starting our wellness as a collective. To taking a little time out of our day to pay attention to our bodies and take care of ourselves so that we can be our best at work and beyond.
What does this mean?
Spring Into Fitness Month is a two tiered approach-- online and offline. And we're making it fun by throwing in a little incentive to participate!
Every Monday, we're posting healthy breakfast or lunch recipes that you can cook and bring with you to work throughout the week, right here on the BCL blog. Most of the recipes I've made myself and can vouch for their deliciousness.
Every Wednesday, we're running a weekly segment titled "Better than Coffee", featuring energizing tips to get you through your midday slump without having to reach for that 2 PM cup of joe. While coffee isn't inherently bad for you, caffeine has been shown to raise blood pressure and trigger anxiety symptoms and stress. "Better than Coffee" will be a helpful tool for those looking to reduce their caffeine intake. Brooklyn Creative League co-founder, Neil Carlson, has been battling his own caffeine addiction and has been off the sauce for a whole week already!
Every Friday, we're posting guilt-free dessert recipes so you can treat yourself after a long week of working hard!
On Thursday, May 18th at 2:00 PM in the 3rd floor kitchen lounge, we have special guest, Alexander Technique and Meditation teacher Dan Cayer running a workshop titled "Don't Make Pain the Enemy: Dealing with Discomfort While Working". This hands-on workshop is only $5, but we only have space for 12 participants so you must RSVP to reserve your spot.
Every Wednesday morning in May, you can run with me in Prospect Park. We'll meet at Steeplechase Coffee in Kensington at 6 AM, start running at 6:30 and be back at Steeplechase at 7, just in time to catch them opening the shop. We can pop in for a cup of coffee and still have time to go home and shower before work starts! I run at an easy, conversational pace so this meet up is perfect for beginners.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, join me right outside BCL's front doors at 2:00 PM for a quick, light and easy calisthenics circle. We'll spend only about 10 or 15 minutes stretching, getting some sun on our faces and *maybe* do some jumping jacks or take a quick walk around the building. This was the original inspiration for the whole month!
Win a Prize!
Other than feeling great about yourself and having more energy at work, you can also win a prize for participating in Spring Into Fitness Month! Here's How:
Help BCL boost their Instagram engagement! Participate in any three Spring Into Fitness events and document your progress on Instagram using the hashtag #BCLfit You can participate by coming to Dan's workshop, joining Jenni for a jog or afternoon stretch, making any of the recipes posted to the BCL blog or attempting any of our "coffee alternatives" from Better Than Coffee.
Don't have Instagram, or don't feel that participating in an Instagram contest fits your business's Instagram brand or aesthetic? No problem! Participate in any five Spring Into Fitness events OR in any three events plus two non-sponsored activities (such as your usual work out or healthy lunch) and email the evidence to firstname.lastname@example.org
I for one am thoroughly stoked for this month's initiative and I can't wait to see everyone's pictures! We're in this together, people!
Editors Note-- I am not a healthcare professional and am only ever speaking to my own experiences and research. I also am very open to discussing my weight loss and wellness journey. If you want to talk further, you know where my desk is!