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Ladies, this post is (well, mostly) all about girls.  Also, since I have a lot of topics to cover, I decided to add headings to each section — brace yourself! 🙂

Part 1: Zumba girls

So, I had a little bit of a haphazard afternoon after work yesterday.  I had a bunch of stuff to return to Old Navy downtown, then went back uptown to the gym, then back downtown again for dinner with the girls, then back uptown to go home.  I think I hit all the NYC transportation bases: bus, subway, walking and taxi!  Quick side note:

New York City Fun Facts #1 and 2:

1. If a taxi has its top light on (the 4-character taxi number), then it is open and you can hail it.  If the light is off, that means there are people in it, so don’t try to catch it or get upset if it passes you by.  I didn’t know this for YEARS, and wasted many an arm wave trying to hail an occupied cab.

Also, some taxis will still pick up passengers if their off-duty lights are on, but only if you are heading in the same direction they are.

2. In a city of 6+ million people, you will still ALWAYS run into people you know.  On my walk from Old Navy to the gym I ran into an old co-worker and a guy I served on jury duty with.  So random!

Anyway, back to Friday.  So, I get to the gym a little after 6:30, planning on a 2-3 mile run and some elliptical.  After I changed I looked at the class schedule and saw there was a Zumba class at 7, and decided it would be fun to give it a try.  I ran a quick 1.51 miles in 18 minutes (11:30 something pace — yes, I’m slow) and got to the class right on time.

Let me tell you a few things about me.  One, I am very self-conscious, especially when it comes to group workout classes.  I feel like everyone is watching me, and it makes me uncomfortable.  Two, I have absolutely NO rhythm and am incredibly uncoordinated, as many high school musical videos will confirm.  Zumba is a cardio dance class with complicated moves (the website says they are “easy-to-follow dance moves” — HA!) that takes place in a huge mirrored room with windows for spectators to watch through.  Not the best call, Kara.

I am always up for a challenge, so I decided to give Zumba a try.  After a 1+ mile walk to the gym and a quick treadmill run I was ready to go, but after the dance warmup my heart was racing and I was sweating up a storm!  Did I mention it was only 7:05 at this point?

Once we got into the heart of the Zumba workout I started to really struggle.  The extra pounds I’m carrying make me pretty slow on my feet so I had a hard time keeping up; that, combined with my general lack of coordination and self-consciousness (especially because I couldn’t stop noticing the sweat stains on my shirt…ick) made the first 15 minutes of the class really tough.  Plus, the instructor wasn’t wearing a microphone, so I had to stare at her intently to know when we were changing moves.

Right around the halfway mark of the class I stopped focusing so much on myself and started looking around the room.  The class was full of women of all shapes, sizes and ages who all seemed pretty new to Zumba (translation: equally uncoordinated), and many of them were just laughing hysterically while they shimmied around.  That’s when I realized I had a decision to make: I could either stay in my stressed-out state of mind, admonishing myself every time I missed a step, or I could just enjoy myself and have some fun while dancing around with some cool ladies for an hour.  Unsurprisingly, I chose the latter option 🙂

There was one woman in particular that stood out to me in the class.  She was tall, beautiful and incredibly thin, and picked the front row center spot in class, something I would never do.  For the first half of the class I assumed she was a Zumba veteran because of how well she moved, but then I started to realize she was as clueless as I was!  Her confidence, fearlessness and fun spirit were contagious, and by the end of the class we were high-fiving each other after finishing each song.  Who cares if her moves weren’t perfectly coordinated with the instructor?  Not me, and certainly not her.

All in all, I think I’d probably go back to Zumba again — I think even my uncoordinated behind could pick up the moves after a few classes.  Plus, I never shimmy the girls around when I’m on the boring treadmill!

Part 2: Girls night out!

After my workout I hopped on the downtown bus to meet my girlfriends for dinner.  A few college friends (both of whom I’ve known since high school, weirdly enough!) and I started a tradition about three years ago to have a monthly dinner out to chat, catch up on each other’s lives and laugh up a storm 🙂  It is one of the best parts of every month!

So, we met at the aforementioned Belgian restaurant for dinner around 8:30 and stayed until after 11, chatting about boys, relationships, famous Belgians (including Jean-Claude Van Damme, the “muscles from Brussels”), wedding planning, work, the blog, and more!  Last night we were 4 instead of 3 — T’s roommate through all four years of college joined us too — and it definitely was the more, the merrier!  Matt joined us once for dinner when we were at a restaurant in our neighborhood, but it wasn’t as fun; it is very hard to talk about someone when they are sitting right there! 😉

Having girlfriends to talk to/vent to is good for the soul.  As someone who grew up with lots more male friends than female friends (I was SUCH a tomboy growing up), I always felt like I was missing something by not having a group of girlfriends.  Now that we’re all in the crazy minefield of life known as the mid-twenties — jobs!  grad school!  relationships!  weddings!  babies! — it helps to know we’re not alone in the craziness.  Love you girls!

Part 3: “The girls”

When I was thinking about a girls’ night out post, I realized I haven’t talked that much about my job.  I work at a major cancer hospital in the breast cancer research service.  I spend most of my day abstracting (pulling out valuable data points) patient charts and entering data, and I find it really interesting.

I realized I would be a bad healthy lifestyle blogger, bad public health school graduate and bad cancer hospital employee if I didn’t talk a little bit about breast health and cancer prevention!  I’m sure I’ll come back to this topic plenty of times in the future, but I wanted to mention a few important things about breast health in your twenties and thirties:

  • Make sure to get a clinical breast exam (by your OB/GYN or primary care doctor) annually, and be sure to point out any areas of concern or strange symptoms you’ve noticed.
  • Also, make sure to get an annual pap smear; ovarian cancer tends to be asymptomatic (meaning, you don’t know you have it) until it becomes very advanced and much less treatable.  Primary prevention — engaging in healthy behaviors and health screenings to reduce the risk of disease — is key!
  • There’s been lots of talk in the news about the benefits (or lack thereof) of breast self-exams, especially for young women.  The most important thing I can recommend is to examine your breasts multiple times throughout the month, to feel what is normal for you at different points in your cycle.  Young women have really dense breasts that can feel very lumpy sometimes, but knowing what is normal for you (painful, swollen breasts right before menstruation, for example) will help you recognize what isn’t normal and may require medical attention.
  • If you have a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer in your family, make sure your doctors are aware of it, and talk to them about genetic screening and primary prevention.  It is recommended that women with a strong family history start annual screening mammograms and ultrasounds at age 25; in contrast, women without a family history start annual mammograms at 40.
  • Eating right, getting regular exercise and staying at a healthy weight reduces the risk for developing all cancers, especially breast.  The earlier you adopt a healthy lifestyle, the better!

Alright, I think that’s all from me for now!  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below or e-mail me at marathonkara@gmail.com — back later with today’s recap! 🙂


3 Responses

  1. Hi Kara!
    Love your blog 🙂
    Thanks for my honorable mention…dinner with you girls was so much fun.

  2. Your Zumba story had me smiling here while I read it. I hope you decide to go back!

    (nice shout-out to uncoordinated high school musicals – sit down, you’re rocking the boat!!)

  3. […] up was an awesome Spin class, then Zumba take two. I actually remembered some of the moves from last time, which was surprising, but I didn’t feel like it was much of a workout. Maybe it’s a […]

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