Wanderlust Wednesday: My Favorite NYC Runs


The North Woods in Central Park 


Earlier this week I spoke about breaking out of a running rut by switching up my routes. I’m spoiled by living in NYC with a number of amazing parks and trails. I wanted to share some of my favorites trails that you should check out next time you’re in the Big Apple. Even if you’re not a runner these are delightful walks.

1. Cherry Walk (Riverside Park): This narrow trail is along the Hudson River and takes you from the Upper West Side to Harlem. You have to commit to this run because there is no way off the trail until you reach the end. The best time of year for this route is spring because as its name suggests it is particularly lovely when the cherry trees are in bloom.

2. The North Woods (Central Park): Lovely trails, waterfalls, and wildlife make you forget you’re in the heart of Manhattan.

3.The Reservoir (Central Park) If you want to run on a flat surface this trail is great and the views are spectacular.

4. The Inner Loop (Prospect Park) This is a go to if I’m training for an organized race. It’s marked with distance points so it’s easy to track your distance.

5. Fort Greene Park This is a smaller park compared to others on the list but you can cover the entire park in a short time.

6. Riverside Park South This is another river run but it’s easy to switch up your routine by heading inland to the park at points or outward on the docks.

7. Inwood Hill Park This park is at the top of Manhattan just below the Bronx. There are lots of up hill runs and lovely views of vistas across the Hudson.

8. The Peninsula (Prospect Park) If you want to enjoy some nature on your run through Prospect Park this is an alternative to the loop run.

9. The Boardwalk (Coney Island) I love running here early mornings in the summer. It’s right along the beach and is sleepy before the swimmers and sun bathers hit the sand.

10. Harlem Meer (Central Park) The south side of Central Park can be flooded with tourist on nice days. This Northeast corner of the park is low key and the path along the pond and willow trees is beautiful.



Mindful Monday: Breaking Past a Running Rut


So I’ve had a rough year. I’ve talked in the past about my weight issues and surgery to remove my lap band this winter and it has been a real struggle. I have been yo-yo-ing between a 20 lbs weight difference over the past six months and it’s hard. I know my body and that how I work. I have to work twice as hard for half the results where a number of my friends and family are genetically built to live on pints of ice cream, never exercise, and maintain their weight.

I really want to get to a point where I don’t care about the number on the scale or the size on a dress label, but if I’m honest I’m not there yet. I do want to feel healthy and strong so I’m trying to shift my frame of mind from success being measured by hitting physical milestones vs pounds disappearing from the scale. On thing I’ve been focusing on is running.

I’ve been running since 2011 when I did the couch to 5K program. I had fallen off a routine due to all these health issues and surgery last fall and winter. This spring I wanted to get back into a routine so I went back to basics and started my favorite C25K Podacast training again.

Now I’m back in a rhythm of running for 30 minutes about three times a week. This fall I plan on doing Bridge to 10K again. In the meantime, I’ve been committing to keeping up with my weekly runs. Those who know me understand that I’m not a creature of habit in a lot of ways. I get bored easily. I don’t always take the same subway to work because I get restless if I’m walking the same side streets every day. Based on this you might think that running for the same amount of time several days each week would be tedious to me, but it isn’t.

Running like any activity is about learning what you like, what you hate, and what challenges you in a good way. I’ve learned that I really don’t like running on a treadmill so I plan my runs around the weather each week. This also plays into the time of day that I run. During the summer when it gets hot I tend to do more evening runs. Now that we’re entering falls I do more morning runs during the week and afternoon runs on the weekends since it’s cooler and the sun goes down earlier.

What really helps me shake things up though is running different routes. Sometimes I run on pavement and other days I run on trails which switches things up and gives my joints a break. What is so wonderful about the parks in NYC is that I can run the same direction for months and constantly find new trails and detours that I didn’t know exist. I typically can run 5K in thirty minutes but my distance can change based on my route. I can often go further and faster if I’m running a flatter path or a course I’m familiar with. Somedays I don’t get as much distance in but it’s a more challenging run because of an incline or running uphill the majority of the time. This keeps things fresh. Some days a run is breezy and the time flies by. Other days thirty minutes feels like three hours and I want to cry. But keeping with this helps me appreciate the strength my body has.

Creating Your Own Manifesto


Here is one from the archives of the old site. I wanted to revive it to see if this manifesto still spoke to me two and a half years later. It does.

I’m a fan of Creative Mornings which is a breakfast lecture series in over 250 cities across the world. The talks are so popular that there is often a waiting list. The New York chapter used to have field trips to local companies for people who are on the lecture wait list. In 2015 I attended a field trip at Holstee whose company manifesto is now famous.

The field trip was to encourage people to write a personal manifesto for themselves or their business. I want to eventually pen one for ModSpinster, but I thought it was important to write one for myself first. Why write a personal manifesto? Businesses have mission statements which they hopefully hold themselves accountable to. Shouldn’t we have something similar in our personal lives? I like the idea of using this when I’m faced with decisions or a crossroad to make sure the choice I’m making rings true to what I hold at my core.

There is no right or wrong way to write a manifesto. I distilled a list of beliefs, wants and truths into mine. I’m going to share mine and hope you’ll be inspired to write your own.  

Paula’s Manifesto

Karma exists, what you put out into the universe will come back to you tenfold. When it comes to empathy and random acts of kindness a small gesture can be huge to the person receiving it. Tell and show people you love that you love them often. You never know when you won’t have the opportunity to anymore. Never do something because you expect to get something out of it. If you have no expectations you’ll have no disappointments.

Go to bed each night feeling like you’ve made a difference in at least one person’s life. Travel around the world to see incredible sights, listen to people’s stories, taste local flavors, capture memories through smell, and tell the wonders you’ve experienced to others. Be the type of person people speak well of. Care less about what other people think and trying to please everyone. Treat your body like an instrument. Leep it in tune and love it for all its unique qualities. 

People aren’t defined by their jobs or careers, but by their hearts. If you put your energy into efforts where you aren’t valued or that you don’t value you’ll come out of the experience empty. Friends are the most valuable possession which is why they can’t be owned. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable makes us stronger. If you do what you love happiness will follow.

What’s your manifesto?

10 Years with the Love of My Life


Since this site is called ModSpinster one could easily come to the conclusion that I’m not into commitment. In reality, I’m an incredibly committed person. I commit to work, friendships, and personal projects that bring me fulfillment and where I feel I’m making an equal contribution. I haven’t experience that sustained feeling in a romantic relationship which is why I’m comfortable with being single.

Lincoln Center

There is one particular relationship that I’d like to acknowledge today. I’ve been in love with them from a far for years and our paths did cross from time to time. Ten years ago today was the start of my committing to that partnership so it felt right to give it some public love. A decade ago I moved to NYC and they say once you’ve lived here for 10 years that makes you a New Yorker.

Skyline NYC

Like any relationship, there is give and take and no partner is perfect. There are things about New York that I still find irritating such as the cost of living, the tourist traps that are flooded with people, winter days where it’s freezing and the sidewalks are a sheet of ice, stepping onto a subway car in the beastly heat of summer and realizing there is no AC and someone peed in it. I could go on, but you may be wondering why would I or anyone want to live in such a place. Simple, it’s the most amazing city on earth.

Washington Square

For every negative, I listed there are at least a dozen positives that make up for it. I live on the Upper West Side which means my backyard and running paths are Central Park and Riverside park, two of the loveliest places in the world. I enjoy take out and dine in from every cuisine imaginable. Some of the most memorable experiences of my life have taken place in NYC including swinging from a trapeze, dancing on a Broadway stage, watching incredible live performances from geniuses of dance, music, acting, and prose, I’ve made some incredible friends while living here, again I could go on forever.


I can’t predict what the future will bring and if I’ll be here for the rest of my life or not, but I do know it would take a lot for me to love. New York is not for everyone, but the city with all its faults and wonders speaks to my heart more than most people I’ve encountered. Words fail me so as Carrie Bradshaw said in the season five opener of Sex and the City, “…you only get one great love, New York may just be mine.” I love you, New York.

365 Project: Recipes 16-30


A couple weeks ago I wrote about my goal of making 365 new (to me) dishes. I’ll be posting every fifteen recipes I complete here along with my notes and ratings.

16. Smoked Eggplant Tahini


Source: Plenty 

Notes: The recipe suggested adding tomatoes and/or cucumbers if you wanted to. I found the cucumbers gave a nice crunch to the dish and the pomegranates the recipe calls for, give a hint of sweetness to cut the smokey taste of the eggplant.

Rating: Liked

17. Radish Salad and Lemon Pasta


Source: Blue Apron

Notes: My sister Esther and I made this together one weeknight. She’s a Blue Apron member. It’s a subscription service that sends you the ingredients and instructions to prepare three dinners for two every week. This was a very simple recipe of pasta seasoned with lemon juice and parmesan. The salad was bibb lettuce, radishes, and shallots. If you are a new cook or someone looking to try new recipes Blue Apron and similar services are great. I decided I’m too bossy for this kind of service, I don’t like being told what I’m having for dinner each week. 😉

Rating: LOVED

18. Pineapple Almond Coconut Protein Shake


Source: Passionately Raw

Notes: I’m a little obsessed with my Nutribullet. Protein shakes are great breakfasts when you’re on the go. Making them yourself only takes a couple of minutes and it takes so much better than prepared drinks. Spirulina is something I discovered this summer and I love it. It is an easy way to add a serving of greens to your protein beverage but it doesn’t overpower the taste of the rest of the ingredients like kale and spinach can.  I made some substitutions for this recipe. I used filtered water instead of coconut water and since I wanted this to be a protein shake vs a smoothie I also added a scoop of Vega One Coconut Almond Protein Powder. I didn’t add stevia because it is sweet enough with the pineapple. I did add some chia seeds which are a great source of fiber.

Rating: LOVED

19. Maple Poached Pears with Mascarpone 


Source: My Recipe Magic 

I love fruit desserts much more than chocolate. This was fantastic and simple to make. I didn’t add the caramel sauce because I found the maple syrup made this dish sweet enough.

Rating: LOVED

20. Mexican Rice Stuffed Peppers 


Source: Everyday Jenny

Notes: This dish takes a little bit of time but despite the multiple steps it was easy. If I wanted to make a vegetarian version I’d either omit the chicken for extra beans or substitute it with ground soy.

Rating: LOVED

21. Mushroom Parcels


Source: Plenty 

Notes: This was easy and made a great presentation. I found the dish to be very rich, though.

Rating: Okay

22. Black Pepper Tofu


Source: Plenty 

Notes: This dish called for green onions which I’m not a huge fan of. Most onions and green bell peppers don’t agree with me so when possible I substitute them with another vegetable. In this instance, I steamed baby broccoli and it was delicious. I served this dish on top of zucchini noodles.

Rating: LOVED

23. White Chocolate Sauce 


Source: The Grant Life 

Notes: My sister Sarah gave me a Nespresso maker for Christmas which has really helped me to cut down on my Starbucks habit. I usually make straight up espresso or a cappuccino but I was craving something a little sweeter so I made this sauce and poured some in the bottom of my cup and topped it off with espresso, foamed milk, and cinnamon.

Rating: Liked

24. Spinach Egg Muffins 


Source: An Original 🙂

Notes: While I did throw this one together on my own I want to give a shout out to 21 Day Sugar Detox because this is where I first tried my hand at Egg Muffins. They have amazing recipes for low carb apple strudel muffins and broccoli muffins. I was craving some spinach so I sauteed a bag full in a pan with some oil. I blended it in the Nutribullet with eight eggs, half a cup of sweet red peppers, and some salt and pepper to taste. I lined a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners and spread the batter evenly among the cups and baked at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Make sure if you try this that you use not stick spray both on the tin and a little inside the liners too. Otherwise, the eggs will stick to the paper.

Rating: LOVED

25. Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake


Source: 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook

Notes: This recipe calls for coconut milk but I used almond milk instead. When I make protein shakes I tend to use filtered water or almond milk for additional liquid over coconut water, coconut milk, soy milk, or cows milk. This is a taste preference more than anything else. My choice of protein powder is also a taste preference. There are various whey and soy protein powders on the market but I prefer plant based protein powders. For this particular shake, I used Plant Fusion Natural Flavor.

Rating: LOVED

26. Pumpkin Hummus 


Source: Vegetarian Ventures 

Notes: This is a nice twist to your everyday hummus. Next time I’d probably add a little more salt and pepper. It could have used just a little bit more of a kick.

Rating: Liked

27. Braised Balsamic Cabbage 


Source: 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook

Notes: This was very satisfying as a side dish but also as a snack on its own.

Rating: LOVED

28. Buffalo Cauliflower


Source: Miss Frugal Mommy 

Notes: This was a lite alternative to traditional buffalo wings. I served this with carrot and celery sticks.

Rating: Liked

29. Beet Pizza with Veggies and Dip


Source: Runnin Srilankan 

Notes: This is a great low carb snack that spices up serving a plain crudite plate. Instead of green onion dip, I made my own ranch dip. I topped this off with purple cabbage, sweet corn, celery, and bell peppers.

Rating: LOVED

30. Strawberry Grapefruit Ginger Smoothie 


Source: Aggie’s Kitchen

Notes: I subbed out the apple for a banana. I’m starting to warm up to bananas in protein shakes. I was never a huge fan, but I’m trying to get more magnesium in my diet and they’re a great source. I also added a scoop of Vanilla Vega Protein Power.

Rating: Liked





Bonus Recipe


Earlier this week I posted some new recipes I’ve tried. I’ve been posting these recipes on Instagram and I’ve got a lot of requests for the recipe to broccoli crust pizza. This isn’t one of my 365 recipes in a year since I first made it in 2016, but I’m including it in the blog since so many people have asked me for it.

Source: Gimme Delicious Food

Notes: Make sure you squeeze as much water from the broccoli as you can otherwise the crust won’t get crispy.

Rating: LOVED



Mindful Monday: Sparkpeople


Given last week’s setback, I want to focus my posts this week around what I’m doing to hit the ground running and let this change of plans become a challenge to help me prove to myself that I’m stronger than I ever imagined vs a defeat that I have no control over.

 I’ve mentioned both lap band surgery and running in previous as tools that have helped me loose and maintain my weight. Another tool that has helped me is SparkPeople. When I initially got my lap band SparkPeople was a place I’d turn to almost daily. In the past couple of years, it has been more of a resource that I occasionally visit for a reminder. Last week I got back in the habit of using it daily.

SparkPeople is a website and app that allows you to track calories, fitness goals, and water intake. In the past beyond nutrition and exercise journaling what I found really useful about SparkPeople is the community aspect.  The platform allows you to join teams made up of people with similar backgrounds, interests, or goals.  For example, I belong to teams for people who have lap bands, fans of The Ohio State Buckeyes, and writers.  You can join team goals, chat with each other in the forums, but most importantly cheer one another on.  The mini goals set by the teams and the camaraderie of supporting one another in victories and setbacks is what kept me coming back.  

I have to say since I was last regularly using the site the activity in the teams has died down a bit. My day job is in Community Managment so I know that this is pretty typical. I’m finding new teams with more active members to help me with the support aspect of this journey.

What is really helping me right now is the trackers for nutrition.  I do plug in my exercise too, but since I use a Fitbit for that, food is really what I focus on with SparkPeople. I love being able to easily pull up foods and enter them for each meal. The site automatically pulls up all the nutrients for me. You can set nutrition goals and trackers. Aside from calories I also track protein, fat, carbs, and fiber. I wish I could track sugar since that is something I’m really reducing, but unfortunately, that isn’t a current tracking feature on SparkPeople.  

Do you have other nutrition or fitness trackers that you swear by?