The Challenges of Living a Healthy Lifestyle in NYC

The city is go, go, go...but not necessarily go to the gym...

As you all know I recently made a move from Colorado to the big city. I could go on and on about all the things I love about living here, but one dislike is the toll it took on my healthy habits. I know it sounds crazy because of the sometimes endless walking New Yorkers do, but despite the fact that I use my feet more often, my gym and food schedule is completely out of whack.

In Colorado my health schedule was set. It was second nature to pack my gym bag the night before, hit the gym on my drive home from work, come home to prepare my pre-planned meal, pack a healthy lunch of leftovers and do it all over again the next day. Here it is a different story. My struggles to get in the wellness groove have been less than easy. In wanting to tap in to what the deal is I decided to make a list of what about my NYC life is hindering my fitness goals.

  1. The City is so much, FUN: Not that I didn’t have fun in Colorado, but if I’m being honest, nothing compares to all there is to do here. There is never a dull moment, always things to see, new places to go, and I just don’t want to miss out on any opportunities to play. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. Weekday Get-Togethers are far too Common: It’s true what they say, the city never sleeps. In Colorado it was rare to have much more than a dinner out during the week, but here it’s not just common it’s NORMAL. What typically happens is I wake up with the intention to head to the gym right after work then I get a call from a friend to meet up for drinks. Going to the gym pre-drinks isn’t really possible because my gym is out of the way from all the activity. And, for me, going to the gym after drinking and dining is very unlikely. This comes down to loving my friends far too much and not wanting to miss out on fun times. Oh, and maybe my complete inability to say no.
  3. Food and Wine is Everywhere: People eat out here like it is going out of style…quickly. In fact, I have friends that are shocked I even cook at all. Thankfully I have a kitchen that has space for my culinary masterpieces, but I’m not using the area as much as I want to. Or that I should. Back home going out to eat was a luxury; here it is just what you do.  And so is ordering wine. Ugh, to the liquid calories.
  4. City Hours are Late, Late, Late: My work hours used to be 7 to 3:30, which left plenty of time to get a great workout in and get home to prepare a well-balanced meal. My life here is so different. My job starts around 10 so clearly I get home later, workout later and find that I eat dinner after 9 way too often. You probably think that the late hours means that going to the gym bright and early should be a breeze, however, on a good night I am often falling asleep after midnight. Somewhere along the way I got acquainted with the city habit of sleeping in…basically it is a vicious circle.

    My kitty being lazy...but we have ALL been there.
  5. Grocery Shopping is a Total Pain: I’ll just say it…I LOVE COSTCO. Buying in bulk and always having things on hand made eating healthy a breeze. When you go to the store here you have to manage what you can actually carry back. My (now weak) arms can only handle so much! I’m used to being an every week or so shopper and if you want to have fresh food here you need to go every day. Without a daily visit to Food Town I am Mother Hubbard. Plus the prices…don’t even get me started.
  6. My Menu Board is MIA: I have a comprehensive menu binder (I’ll share more details about this another time!) that I used to faithfully browse through every Sunday and write down the week’s meals on a miniature white board. Despite many efforts to get the board back into my life, it is usually left blank. My planning skills have become more about pulling chicken out of the freezer and figuring out what to do with it later (also a bit of praying I HAVE ingredients in the house to actually make a complete meal). For all of you that know me, I’m a major planner that obsesses over lists so this behavior is so unlike me. Everything is always up in the air here so I found that I would pull a meat out of the freezer and days later it would still be sitting there. Couple that with my grocery store saga and you will see my lack of planning doesn’t keep my kitchen as active as I desire it to be.
  7. The Gym Memberships are Insane: Signing up for a $69/month membership makes me cringe. And this is at one of the more inexpensive, non-passport membership costs. I know prices are high here, but this is ridiculous if I do say so myself. You are thinking that there are other alternatives besides going to the gym to stay fit, but I actually really like the gym environment and everything that comes with it. I bit the bullet and signed up for the local gym I have to go a bit out of my way to get to it and per the above, sometimes out of the way is just not happening.
  8. Lugging the Gym Bag Around:  Not having a car is amazing, but on some occasions it just sucks. Gone are the days when I can throw my bag into the trunk and pull it out when I arrived in the gym parking lot. Despite the fact that hauling an extra bag around the streets is a total pain, the subway doesn’t allow much extra space for my gym luggage. My local gym is near my home, but a bit out of the way so it’s not worth going to my apartment and heading back out the opposite direction after changing.
  9. Packing Lunch is Few and Far Between: In Colorado I would always cook extras for dinner so I could pack it for lunch the next day. My co-workers used to ask me if I was dieting and I would happily say “this is just how I eat!” With my meal planning out the window my lunch packing skills are a complete catastrophe. The bigger issue is my work is far too nice and offers to buy our lunch every day, but this is a belly building disaster.  Like I said, going out to eat is what you do here.  Must stop!
  10. I Miss my Health Partner: For a short time I lived with my now in-laws while David and I got our feet on the ground and planned for our upcoming wedding. Lucky for me my in-laws are pretty awesome so it wasn’t the torture chamber you are imagining. My mother-in-law has a Weight Watchers past, loved Costco as much as me and greatly supported my menu board. She was my partner in wellbeing. I could always count on her to come home with the newest healthy snack or force feed fruit down my throat (or maybe that was me doing that to her), but either way…we were on the same health track so things just felt easy. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is my biggest fan and my friends are the best but Donna and I were always on the same wavelength so things were simple.
The Hudson River after a run.

You can say it…this list of challenges quickly became a list of complaints, but don’t misread this list. I am not a complete bum with zero healthy habits. I still love to cook, watch what I eat and I’ve participated in with the New York Road Runners. I’m not a bar dweller, I do drag my gym bag around and take advantage of the parks. I just want to do these things more and get myself back on track instead of being so loosy-goosy with my wellness.  Anyone that lives in New York City can relate to this list and if you don’t, you can compare the health struggles you needed to overcome in your hometown. Managing a new environment takes time and innovative effort, but with my 8 month move anniversary fast approaching the semi-vacation phase needs to come to a close. So, here is to resetting my mind and overcoming these “health hiccups” while balancing all of the adventures that the city of bright lights and big dreams has to offer!


 Can you relate to having health challenges in your city? What did you do to overcome them?


  1. I think this is a great opportunity for you to get creative – though your old habits may have been working, this is a call to “shake things up”!

    You’re about to “BRING IT” – NYC health style 🙂


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