Women I Admire

I am SO excited to let ya’ll know that I’m bringing back the Rockstar Series! Founded in 2013 (and shamelessly neglected in 2014), the Rockstar Series featured interviews and stories from amazing women who live well while busy. It’s the best thing that ever happened to this little blog and I am SO excited to be bringing it back.

This time around, I’m broadening the scope a bit to include more elements of what it means to live well. We’ll hear about professional accomplishments, volunteer work, parenting, travel, overcoming adversity – you name it.

Look forward to stories from incredible women with different lifestyles across the country!

In the meantime, you can check out the original posts: one, two, three, four, five, six and seven. If you or someone you know is a Rockstar, let me know – I’m always up to meet brilliant humans.

 

 

 

 

 

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I won something and I’m angry.

IMG_0006_2I raced my first tri of the season this past weekend, and it was fantastic. The weather was perfect (overcast), I enjoyed every minute, pushed myself to a level that still felt comfortable, and placed in my age group – a first for me! But today, I’m kind of pissed off.

I’d been doubting how prepared I was for this race because:

-I’ve only been working out about 4 times a week.
-I’m about 10 lbs over what I consider my “race weight.”
-I’ve been really down on myself about the way my body looks right now.

You see, I turned thirty a few weeks ago – which was a blast, and believe me I’m NOT worried about being thirty – but there were photos taken of me in a bathing suit and I was horrified.

Here’s a sample of the offending photos (full disclosure – this sh*t is not touched up):

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On the left – my not so chiseled abs. These ones made me cringe a little.

On the right – my big bootie/thunder thigh connection in the full throes of the competing forces of gravity, momentum and muscle flex. I saw this pic, and felt absolutely mortified.

How f*cked up is that?

I have a body. It has fat on it. It also has muscle and skin and hair and is shaped differently from your body, or her body, or my friends’ bodies. Why do I feel badly about that?

Sometimes it’s a little heavier, sometimes it’s lighter. Sometimes it retains water because I’m having a good time celebrating. Sometimes it looks really svelte because I’m only putting great things in it. Sometimes it looks really svelte because I’m stressed and don’t feel like eating. One isn’t better than the other, it’s just the reality of living my life.

I’m a real person, living a really spectacular life. That means I’m not going to look like something in a magazine every time I take a picture.

So yeah, I’m pretty pissed that I KNOW all this – I know I’m strong and healthy and frankly, kind of a badass – and I still see a picture like this and feel bad.

TIMG_0011_2his is my stand. I’m so happy to see so many body positive messages and more body diversity in the media. It’s awesome. I genuinely hope that all the young women growing up today feel like their bodies are beautiful.

But this is for all the ladies in my generation. I know we all grew up feeling like we should be as waif-ish as Kate Moss. I know we all know better. I know we all still feel the pressure in spite of everything. We hit a tough time. We were raised in a world with increasing quantities of processed foods, a huge jump in rates of obesity and type II diabetes, yet the media presented us with an ideal that was desperately thin. I know my body’s never going to look like that of a 90s supermodel, but there is a part of me – however tiny – that will always wish that it did. I’m not proud of that, but it’s ok.

My imperfect body – second thigh/butt and all – is f*cking awesome. Yours is too. Whether you’re built like Kate Moss or Rosie O’Donnell, your body is awesome. Take care of it and try to love it as it is. I will too! Let’s be real – we’re worth a lot more than what we look like anyhow.

And oh yeah, here’s my big butt bringing home a third place finish.

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Coming up for air

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Summertime is here at last! I haven’t posted anything in almost a year, but summer means races, adventures, and day drinking in the sunshine. These most blog-able of subjects cannot be ignored. Stay tuned – fun things ahead!

In the meantime, I’ve updated my summer recommendations on the Arts & Culture and Happy Hour pages. Check ’em out!

How it all went down

What a week! I kid you not, I put in a title for this post and promptly fell asleep on the couch. So here’s to take two!

IMG_2009Last Saturday was my birthday, and it got off to a great – albeit rainy – start on the Brooklyn Half course. I joined some of my teammates from Brooklyn Tri Club, and some friends and families of runner buddies to give ALL the cowbell. My ears are still ringing – but it was worth it. Sadly, all of my beautiful posters melted in the rain, but they were fun while they lasted!

P.S. – If you need more cowbell, call me. I’ve gotcha covered.

Afterwards, Charlie and I did super exciting things like dropping off the bags full of clothes we don’t wear anymore at Goodwill, and getting the massive pile of old mail that’s been building up behind our couch since we moved in shredded at NYC ShredFest. I kid you not – I was SO jazzed to get that stuff out of our apartment. #win. I also got in a little birthday run before taking a power nap and getting ready to party.

IMG_2027Huge thanks go out to everyone who came out to help me celebrate last weekend – it was a blast to drink beers and eat carbs with you! If anyone’s in need of a casual venue that can accommodate a large group in Brooklyn, I highly recommend Die Koelner Bierhall. They were so good to us, and made it super easy for us to split checks and such. (My fave pic from the night is to the right.)

In addition, I’m immensely grateful for all of the fantastic donors who made a birthday donation to my fundraiser for Back on My Feet. Your generosity means the world to me, and will make a huge difference for Back on My Feet – thank you! For those of you who want to make a donation, you have until the NYC Triathlon on July 19th!

After a weekend full of festivities, I got to jump right into some professional development on Monday at the American Express Leadership Academy run by the Center for Creative Leadership. I was super skeptical about spending a week locked in a hotel convention center to learn how to be a better leader with a bunch of strangers, but it ended up being an INCREDIBLE experience. I’m still trying to process everything I learned, but I’m confident that my participation in the Academy is going to make me a better leader at the office – and I’m so thrilled to have met so many of my colleagues leading nonprofits across New York City.

I’m proud to say, that in spite of the insanely busy week – that included spending a few nights at a hotel – I got some solid workouts done this week. Nothing impressive, but I got them done. And thank goodness, because I’ve got my first race of the season NEXT weekend. How did that come up so quickly?!?

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for next week. It’s my first international distance race, so it’s longer than any tri I’ve raced before, and I have to travel the night before since it’s on a Saturday morning. It’ll also be the first tri I’ll race in a wetsuit, so there’s an added complication to T1. So many things to worry about! But ya know what – I’ve worked pretty hard this year. I could definitely have worked harder, gone out a little less, and gotten up earlier more often, but I’ve been pretty committed. I’m sure I’ll improve throughout the season, but I have faith that I’ll be able to push out a solid race this weekend. Good juju and words of encouragement welcome!

Here’s to a productive taper week for me – and a wonderful week of whatever you’ve got on your plate! I’ll report back with a recap of my first international distance tri next weekend!

May is Bike Month!

I’ve always known that May was the best month of the year. The weather is perfect, summer swim team starts, baseball is in full swing, and well, I was born in May, so obviously it’s a winner.  In addition to those wonderful things, since 1956, May has been National Bike Month! Started by the League of American Bicyclists back when everyone liked Ike, National Bike Month is dedicated to getting more folks on bicycles. There are tons of events across the country to get you on two wheels, and if you can’t find one near you, the League of American Bicyclists has some resources to help you start one! If you’re in NYC like me, check out bikenyc.org for all things Bike Month.

IMG_1993A few weekends ago, I grabbed some buddies and headed down to the Red Hook Crit. For those who aren’t familiar – and believe me I wasn’t until I stumbled upon this Crit a couple of years ago and then googled the shit out of it – a criterium (or crit) is a bike race that happens on a short, closed track. The cyclists go around the track in multiple laps and get REALLY fast. Oh, and did I mention they’re riding track bikes – fixed gears with NO brakes. It’s pretty awesome. In any case, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to convince anyone to go with me, but Charlie and his buddy agreed to join me and guess what? We all had a blast! If you ever have a chance to go – do it.

In other cycling news, I finally made it to a morning bike workout with the tri club, and wouldn’t you know –  it was awesome. I can’t wait to get faster with all the new skillz I’m learning. It’s crazy how much a good coach can teach you in a short while.

Now, to get away from the bicycles, I should mention that this Saturday is my birthday, and I will be eternally grateful if you would make a donation to my fundraising campaign for Back on My Feet NYC! I’ve set a very ambitious goal, and I need your help to reach it. BoMF is the reason I wake up early, and my motivation to race the NYC Triathlon.  The organization and its members inspire me daily and I know that if you look into it, you’ll be inspired to – so at least click on the link and check it out. Everyone needs a little inspiration!

Last but not least – if you’re running the Brooklyn Half – I’ll be cheering for you along with all my homies and about a dozen cowbells at about mile 7.5. If you want to come out and cheer with me, pop me an email at afennecken@gmail.com and I’ll hit you up with the deets – it’ll be a blast!

Happy Bike Month all! Let me know what you’ll do to celebrate in the comments:)