Tuesday Pick-Me-Up #1

Taking a quick break from drowning in paperwork to write this (aka on break at work) – I’m going to try and start a new type of post every Tuesday. I hate Tuesdays, they’re usually my biggest slump day of the week. Maybe that’s just me, but, Tuesdays are my “in desperate need of something to cheer me up” days. They also happen to be my biggest retail therapy day. Keep me away from Ann Taylor and TJ Maxx on Tuesdays. And the internet in general.

So, I want to try and compile a list of things that perk me up each Tuesday – whether they be something cute I saw online (buyable or no), an article that I read and really enjoyed, something nice that happened, or just an inspirational quote I ripped from my Pinterest board. Whatever. Probably better to show than tell:

Tuesday Pick-Me-Up #1

3 Simple Tricks to Improve Running Form (And Have the Best Run Ever)
3 Quick and Dirty Tips to Prevent Running Injuries for Good

Finding out what shin splints really are...

Finding out what shin splints really are…

These article, from Greatist, were short and to the point but the tips were great and better yet, information I didn’t already know. I’ve complained about it before I’m sure but I have a tendency to struggle with shin splints whenever I’m running a lot – I’ve learned they’re mostly from my stride and overworking myself. Luckily, though I had some pretty severe shin pain after running Friday, I was way more mindful yesterday and today and it’s completely gone (phew!). I genuinely love running and I hate when I have to cut back because my muscles are pulling away from the bone. Btw, yeah, that’s what shin splints do. And stress fractures, for those curious, are when the muscle pulls part of the bone away with it and – yeah. I’m grossed out too. So, I don’t want that. And the author of these short articles (seriously, check them out, even if running isn’t your favorite thing), Jason Fitzgerald, is a certified track coach so if he doesn’t know what’s up with running, we’re all screwed.

Mod Cloth’s Extra Soar-age Shower Caddy

CaddyI do not need this but it is easily the one of the cutest effing things in the whole entire world. My next place may (read: most definitely) have a woodland creatures-type theme. It’s okay, just call me Snow White. Can be found for purchase here: Extra Soar-age Shower Caddy. ModCloth’s home decor section in general is awesome – though a little price-y for a lot of cute but silly knick knacks. Don’t get me wrong, I troll their page endlessly and suggest everyone go check it out.

 

Fitness Blender

Not my photo, obviously.

My friend Meara first told me about this website and I finally checked it out. And it is AWESOME. You can search for workouts by the amount of minutes you are willing to scrounge together, the amount of calories you’re willing to let go of, even the part of the body you would most like to improve. FYI, there is no such thing as “spot reducing” so if you looking to lose fat from your abs specifically, it’s not going to happen. You’ll just lose weight in general. But if you want to actually strengthen your core, you know what kind of exercises to look up. I felt the need to throw that info in there. I’m just a wealth of knowledge today, aren’t I? So this website is created by a married couple that look like they make all of their friends on social media jealous and it’s pretty awesome. So far, it looks free too so it sounds like an all around win to me. I spend a lot of money on a gym but you really have a lot of options when it comes to home workouts.

Lastly and on a completely unrelated note, I’m a huge horror/thriller/suspense movie fan. I love ’em; love being scared, adrenaline-racing, edge of my seat, holy shit holy shit holy shit scared. So on Halloween, Beau and I rented a horror movie called Dark Skies to watch, then ended up falling asleep because we’re really exciting people. I still wanted to see it so I watched it alone the next night and you guys it’s about aliens. I love ghost movies, and it was from the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious so I thought, “Oooh scary ghostie movie!” I was so wrong. They showed the aliens. They had the long thin appendages and big heads and big eyes and seriously it was the most incredibly wrong turn a movie that showed promise could make. Aliens. Aliens. STOP IT.

– a.

Switching to a 6 a.m. workout?!

Man, I’m doing it. Two posts in two days – does this count as a roll? Am I on one? As Mondays go, today was pretty great. Though it took a good twenty minutes, I got up early enough (~6:45 a.m.) to go for a two mile jog before getting ready for work. This is the second workday in a row I’ve gotten up early enough to go for the run and I really can’t promote it enough. The actual act of getting up is pretty sucktacular – I spent the better part of my 25 years as an insomniac with a penchant for reading books by the illumination of a clip-on reading light; I consequently melted it in two one night when I was in third or fourth grade. But with the use of my handy dandy Sleep Cycle app (http://wp.me/p2HlrE-e3), I woke up at my lightest point and consequently wasn’t quite as groggy.

A few tips for those transitioning to morning workouts?

1. Have everything ready. I have all my workout clothes folded on my nightstand, outfit for the next day on my chair, breakfast and lunch in the fridge, and if I’m going to Soldierfit, all of the day’s clothes plus towel, shower stuff, and water bottle are prepped. If I don’t have everything prepared, I will forget it. I’ve forgotten my gym shoes before. I seriously drove to the gym barefoot and then was confused. This also happens when you carry so much shit in your backseat you just kind of assume you have a pair of sneakers back there.

melatonin2. Get a good night’s sleep. I have trouble getting up after a late night regardless, but if I stayed up until 12:30 a.m. and my alarm is going off at 6 for a run I will undoubtedly fall back asleep until 7:35, which is the “oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit” time period wherein I’m almost late to work. So. Know when you’re getting up, go to bed like 8.5 hours before then. I’m also a fan of melatonin; I don’t take it every single night but I do take it pretty regularly and it really helps keep my sleeping regular. You can pick it up at Wal-mart, or if you hate them as much as me, pretty much any store that sells any vitamins. I get the dissolvable kind that taste like strawberries because even though I’m perfectly capable of taking pills, I’m a 5-year-old. There are different milligram amounts so I’d stay stick with a low amount, at least at first, because if you take too much it can actually keep you up. Research, friends.

3. Stick with it. This is for me especially but I am one of those 50 yard dash people who gets super into something for a short period of time but then loses interest almost as quickly. You can see it in my blog postings in the past – at least in the frequency. I’ve read time and time again that to have something become routine you need to do it for at least 21 days. Hence the 21-Day Fix (not something I’ve tried but I’ve heard good things about) and other workout programs that pressure at least three weeks to a month of commitment. Insanity is 60 days but they break it into 30 day increments. When talking to Beau (the guy I’m seeing) about it, someone who wakes up at 4:30-5:00 a.m. six days a week to get to the gym and lift heavy weights, he said that it really was all about finding a routine for him. Now he has to go to have his day pan out. Speaking of which…

4. Ask around, get information from others. I’ve asked a multitude of friends who are similarly troubled with schedules that just don’t seem to fit evening fitness well and almost all of them have been great resources. But if you’re looking for motivation, answers, ideas, whatever, do research. It’s not weird, I swear. One of the greatest motivations I’ve found is using my tumblr to join workout ‘groups’ with other like-minded individuals. We all encourage each other and it’s honestly the biggest push in me making this change to really get back into the flow of working out. Tumblr is a great resource, but so are other fitness blogs (pbfingers.com is a personal favorite). Check them out! Honestly, just google it. I swear by Google.

5. Find a way to hold yourself accountable. I’m still working on this one – it’s so easy for me to just give the day a middle finger and crawl into pjs but now it’s the first thing I do and once it’s done, it’s done. So, if I don’t work out first thing, I am going to make an effort to tell someone. Basically, tattling on myself. I need that though. It’s too easy for me to fall back into procrastination.

That’s all I really have right now in the way of tips – I’m still super new to this transition. But, it’s 10 and I have to be up at 6 so I’m going to go plug my ears and try to sleep. Unfortunately, this is also the week my parents have decided to watch the TV until 11 p.m. and my the walls are thin. On the upside, moving out mid-year 2015 is looking more and more possible and boy am I excited. I miss having my own space.

Anyone else have any tips for morning workouts?

– a.

Hot Yoga Made Me a Masochist

Fall...?

Fall…?

 

I’m not going to promise to write within any amount of time anymore because it clearly sets me up for failure. That being said, holy shit it’s Autumn. Did anyone else do the stop, turn left, turn right, narrow your eyes, and then slowly turn your head left again? Because I totally did. What I think is probably weirdest is that it’s 50 degrees today and that feels chilly, when in Spring it feels like angels are bathing me in joy and light. Like, why? I really think it’s psychosomatic but who knows for sure. If it’s an excuse to get a cute new jacket I’m totally going to run with it.

So, the rest of this summer has been super eventful. Mia familia went to the West Coast and it was never the same. I think we realized, as a whole, how much we have a tendency to bicker. All families do, sure, but my family is A+ BONUS points good at it. And usually it’s good-naturedly bickering at each other, arguing for the sake of arguing. It was a stressful week – a lot of sitting and driving and looking and going here here here and here; but it was probably one of the cooler vacations I’ve ever been on. We went to Crater Lake, which, everyone needs to see at least once in their lives. We devilschurnstopped in the Redwoods National Park and hugged some really big trees – that actually may have been my favorite part of the entire trip. We hiked probably a total of three miles and it was incredible. I honestly can’t put it into words. Everyone was pretty quiet that entire hike, just looking at the trees. We spent a few days at the beach in Newport, Oregon, which was super freaking cold. But we also stopped at Devil’s Churn, which other than turning into a “let’s all get as close as possible to the death pool” adventure, was massively cool. My poor mother nearly had a heart attack because we kept inching closer and closer.

Safety first, everyone. San Francisco was awesome, though stupid packed. I think it’s the kind of city I’d love to go back to with friends and check out more of the hip and trendy areas as opposed to stereotypical touristy places. On our drive from Newport to San Francisco (oh, yeah, that happened), we stopped in Sonoma for an hour or two to check out some of the big name wineries. I think there’s a special weather that is only right there in Sonoma and Napa Valleys because it was 78 degrees, sunny, and gorgeous the entire time but before and after wine country was chilly and windy. Something’s up with that. I can’t even begin to really fit all of the goings on of that week in a blog post without taking up all of it but my favorite parts were the farm cafe we ate breakfast at with my brother and his wife (they live out there – hence the reason for the trip), Crater Lake, Cards Against Humanity with my family (unreal), the Redwoods National Park, trolling the college town we stayed in with my sister, and the Japanese place we ate at in San Francisco. I think by the end of the week we were all pretty ready for our own beds and Old Bay Seasoning, but it was truly an amazing time and I’m really grateful for the experience. Vacation week very well spent.

There's a little dip in that island. Do you see it? That's the length of a football field. Enjoy perspective.

There’s a little dip in that island. Do you see it? That’s the length of a football field. Enjoy perspective.

So the West Coast was incredible. After we got back, life went pretty back to normal. I received a promotion at work and am really, genuinely enjoying what I do, met a really nice guy who I’ve been seeing for the last two months, and found hot yoga. I can’t begin, I mean really can’t begin, to promote it enough. I love yoga; have the apps on my phone, yoga clothes in my drawer (other than just yoga pants because I’m pretty sure all females between the ages of 14-40 have at least one pair), prerequisite yoga mat and carrier in my backseat, etc. I am a huge fan. I have woken up, intentionally, at 6:30 a.m. to prostrate myself in a room full of other half-awake humans. I say “Namaste” at the end of a class and mean it. I genuinely enjoy sitting and meditating – at least for roughly 20 minutes and then it’s all, “oh my god why is it so quiet,” and “someone turn off the repetitive flute chords.”

I digress. On my birthday, I decided to hit a hot yoga class at a place in my home town with my friend, Taylor. Neither of us had tried it before but I think we both kind of assumed it’d be some asanas in a warm room. A little downward dog, a little corpse, some warriors thrown in for spice…and I have never sweated so much in my entire life. The room was easily near 100 degrees and it was aggressive. I mean, we moved fast. Hard things happened. Buckets of sweat poured from every place in my body sweat can come from. And minus the one gentleman who took “breathe vocally” as “make extremely angry orgasm sounds every time you exhale for an hour”, it was euphoric. Taylor and I turned to each other halfway through, both looking like boiled beets (which don’t sound very appetizing, I might add), and said, “This is freaking awesome.” The rest is pretty much history. Sure, there was a time when getting up from a goddess squat into Warrior II that I got tunnel vision and almost blacked out, but the first time I did a yoga headstand was also in hot yoga. I praise it to everyone.

Back in August, I think, I tried aerial yoga with my friend Vicky up in PA and thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever tried, athletically. It still is super cool and I’m hoping to get back there in the next few weeks. But hot yoga challenges me, pushes me, makes me feel like 5’2″ of rubber and somehow I leave feeling like I can scale buildings. It’s hard. It’s really hard, and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But since then, we’ve coerced a few other friends to join us and they’ve liked it just as much. I already loved yoga – the movement, the difficulty, the spiritually, the lightness afterward – but, this kind of yoga brings me to a place I haven’t been able to find elsewhere. I feel home in three places – my actual home, with my support group, and in a yoga studio. I know yoga definitely has a cult following of perky 20-somethings looking for their latest calorie-burning fix but it’s so much more and with the right instructor, it becomes a lot more. I used to do yoga on break at work in the rehab; found empty group rooms and tried not to break my neck in the 30 minutes. But now I find other time, when I can genuinely focus on it and really work. It really hurts, I really push myself, but I love it.

Now all I need to find is a good yoga top that doesn’t chance any Janet Jackson-esque slips while doing Sun Salutations. Lots and lots of back and forth, up and down…can get dangerous fast. And I wanted to tack on the end here that my friend Meara and I are challenging ourselves this month to write for our respective blogs every day. I have a tendency to really only write when I’m going through big changes, usually painful ones. Like break ups. I write when I go through break ups and it makes for a really depressing blog and I’m really not a depressing person so I’m making an effort to change. I’m also concurrently doing a challenge via tumblr called “Happy Healthy Holidays” that’s all about setting your own goals, but strongly encourages clean eating 80% of the time and working out at least 3x a week. I’m incorporating a morning workout into my work days…I really don’t want to but it’s become excruciatingly clear that evening workouts aren’t working because I’m usually too tired or have other important places to be. So, I’ll be up at 6 a.m. tomorrow. I’ll try to at least mention my workouts here, for accountability if nothing else. Now, I have to go prep my lunches for the week because yeah, that happened to. I plan so many things now. My neurosis is so happy.

It’s great to be back!

– a.

That time I threw my scale at the wall

I disappeared for a bit, but only because I’ve been incredibly busy! The last few weeks have been full of work, working out, and as much time spent with friends and family as possible. In some cases, the best way for me to work through things is alone; after all, I’m someone who craves solitude. But, recently, getting out and doing things has really helped me to feel satisfied at the end of the day. Now that I’m really committed to getting in the best shape I can, my evenings are full of burpees, fast feet, sprints, V-ups, and the dreaded pull up bar. I have never, and I mean ever, been able to do a pull up. I don’t know if I’m alone here, but in all my active years, those muscles were never ones I worked on often. But, lucky for me, one of the instructors I really like (his classes are always upbeat, he’s full of energy, and his classes don’t murder my knees) always tries to incorporate pull ups.

This hasn't happened yet but I'm expecting it.

This hasn’t happened yet but I’m expecting it.

How strange, to feel trepidation at something as silly as a pull up bar. Before pull ups, it was push ups. Before that, sprints. But the more I work at something, regardless of how challenging, the more I look forward to the challenge. I think I should probably add mountain climbers and squat jacks to that list. Another trainer that I really enjoy loves to combine those and it makes my poor knees cry. But all this pain and growth has played a vital role in finding and better understanding myself. Who honestly enjoys admitting their shortcomings? Not me. But I have to.

I don’t have great knees, thanks in part to my own stupidity. I dislocated my knee in college one night at like 4:30 in the morning. My leg gave out, completely out of the blue, and I found myself laying on ice in starburst-worthy pain. I looked down, saw my right kneecap sitting at a 90 degree angle from where it belongs, and promptly shoved it all the way back into place. That was the first time I’ve actually been in such acute pain I almost threw up. I then got to drive my car across the parking lot to the first open spot available (I forget why I was all the way up at the full front…something stupid I’m sure) using my left foot, and limped across the entire parking lot screaming bloody murder and leaning on cars. I then hopped up two flights of stairs, wrapped my knee in sweaters and raised it on a pillow, and fell asleep. I called my mom the next morning to let her know what I ‘thought’ happened…like what else do you call the definite dislocation of your knee? After being completely appalled that I hadn’t sought medical attention yet, she drove up and drove me to the hospital, where I’m pretty sure they tortured me, then prescribed me Vicodin and a leg stabilizer. Thanks, hospital. Being the smart person I am, I worked on my healing knee as a server, using painkillers to make it bearable. I do think, to some extent, working on it has helped it from swelling and rebuilt strength more quickly, but I

These are just the injury pictures I had on Facebook. Clearly, I'm not a careful person.

These are just the injury pictures I had on Facebook. Clearly, I’m not a careful person.

definitely notice that my knees respond to high impact body work a lot more quickly.

Other than that, I managed to get thrown from a four wheeler in the middle of the woods directly onto my back two years ago. How I didn’t break my back/neck/smash my head against a tree/crack my head open/etc. is an honest-to-god miracle. The two guy friends I was with, one being my old roommate, thought for a few seconds that I had died. Did I ever seek medical attention? Of course not. What did I do? Get up, ride back to the campsite (aka my roommate’s backyard), take some ibuprofen, and continue to drink and camp with friends. I then went on vacation for a week, during which I didn’t have full range of motion and mysterious swelling in various places on my back. Common sense all around.

Lastly, last summer, in the wake of a break up, I was running a lot to help get me out of my own head and managed to do something to my lower back/right hip that causes me chronic pain and my hip popping out of place for no reason. Out of nowhere, during a run, I felt something, I don’t know, pull or change, and had pain that radiates from my sciatica ever since. I’ve mentioned before that I saw a doctor for it and he came up with a brilliant conclusion (basically that it was all in my head and I’m a big ol’ baby). All in all, I haven’t taken great care of my body from an impact standpoint. Before my injuries, I had 12 years of swimming, four years of tennis, 7 years of ballet, a year of gymnastics, 8 years of

My body's response to more than 5 SF classes a week.

My body’s response to more than 5 SF classes a week.

cheerleading, and one very sad attempt at track under my belt. My body has straight up had it with my bullshit at this point. So, this means that even though I’d like to go to SoldierFit classes 86 times a week, I have to limit it to 3-5, depending on the impact level of the classes that week. Otherwise my body will most definitely cry foul and I can only assume throw itself into a 300-esque pit.

Which leads to my point (finally, right?): I threw my scale the other day. Not away. Like, at a wall. After losing a disturbing amount quickly thanks to my break up and inability to eat during tumultuous times, I was shocked when it stayed stubbornly at the same weight for not one, not two, but THREE WHOLE WEEKS. Am I fully aware that this is likely due to muscle building and have I measured myself instead? Yes. I’m not an idiot, I know how the body works. But sometimes you just want the numbers to reflect it, weird as that sounds. And treating your scale like a frisbee, as momentarily gratifying as it was, doesn’t actually solve my problem. I’m sure it’s all a part of society, we’re taught that we aren’t healthy unless our weight is a certain number (I feel like women always try to round it to 120 pounds as being that ‘number’ they try to attain…even as a size 2 I was still 125 so I have no foggy notion why this is).

Caaarbs. Carby carby carbs.

Caaarbs. Carby carby carbs.

It’s really hard not to get impatient. I want the strength, endurance, and super fabulous body right now. Of course I do. But that’s not how it works, and the only way I’ll see results is if I keep going in a way that won’t cause my body to start self-flagellation. Will the results be as quick as they have been for others? Of course not. My body is different and, frankly, I love carbohydrates. I’m still craving pretzels like no other for reasons I’m still not fully aware of. I eat gluten (GASP). Once recently, I even put bacon down my feeding hole.

Okay, stop really quick. Feeding hole is disgusting and I apologize for that. Ew, Alyssa.

Otherwise, life has been pretty decent. I ran my first 5k two weekends ago. By ran, I mean jogged half and walked half because HAHAHA I can’t run 3.some miles nonstop yet. It was the Glo Run in Carlisle, PA and it was an absolute blast. My endurance definitely has increased though; another troop I take a lot of classes with told me last week that he’d seen a big change in my endurance already and I almost hugged him. I feel different, energy-wise and physically. My legs are normally where I see changes first and already they’re becoming pure muscle. I have muscles whose names I don’t know that are showing up to the party and helping me rock out the tire flips and 8 zillion squats. I find myself pushing to get just one more push up in before we change stations, even when my muscles are burning and that lazy part of my brain is saying, “He’s counting down from 3, you can stop…stop…ALYSSA JUST STOP MOVING.” It’s a good feeling. I mean, it hurts, but it’s good.

Nicki (left), Taylor (right), and me (where else) at the lake on the Fourth of July.

Nicki (left), Taylor (right), and me (where else) at the lake on the Fourth of July.

Last weekend was the Fourth of July (for anyone living under a rock since the Roman times, who has no concept of the calendar we use today) and it was a lot of fun. Last summer, my friends threw a party at their house and I had to sit through watching my ex and his new girlfriend be super in love for several hours. I had a good time, but nothing can put a damper on that like your ex-manthing’s new girlfriend talking to you about giving him fellatio. Let me tell you. This year, we all have kind of moved up and on our separate ways. I spent the morning/afternoon sitting by the lake at Cunningham Falls, lazily hooping and eating veggie chips. It was absolutely beautiful outside. We moved our party elsewhere around 3pm, due to the need for grilling and poolside nonsense. So, my group of friends and I traversed back to my friend Nicki’s house to grill and blow water out of pool noodles like 6 year olds. And it was just as hilarious as when we were six. Eventually, we toddled off downtown to watch the fireworks (which were astoundingly better than last year), then home to bed. Because even though pool noodles are hilarious, we all are usually asleep by 11 because…adulthood.

I have to note before I end this post that I typed it up yesterday and didn’t finish it until today because, you know, work and stuff, but I went to class yesterday and we practiced running backwards.

We practiced running backwards.

I AM TURNING INTO A SUPERHUMAN…with the hamstrings of a demigod. I also stepped back on the scale today and almost threw it again so I’m thinking it might be time to put it far away in a dark corner where I can’t get on it. I’m going to try and write more in depth about my experience running my first 5k, which is why I didn’t delve too much into it here. To some people, running a 5k is nothing. It’s three miles. But for me, this was about three years of “Oh I think I should” in the making before it actually happened. It deserves its own blog post with its own incredibly inappropriate gifs.

So life is picking up. On the ex front, my body decided it would be a super good idea to start having out of the blue, vivid dreams about him. Like happy ones. I woke up crying one morning because I hadn’t thought about all of those memories in a while – trying to forget, I guess. I’ve had a few others, sporadically, since then and I’m really hoping they stop because they’re creating way too many feelings I don’t want to have anymore. Loving someone who actually used the sentence, “Regardless of my feelings about you, I have to at least see if it can work with ____,”  is only asking for more pain. I also know that I can’t force myself to not love him anymore. Love and betrayal aren’t mutually exclusive. And I’m a person who finds it really difficult to fall in love, but when I do, it’s with all of me.

So pulling myself back out of that is going to take more time than I’d like it to. And for now, I’m going to accept that I still love him and use it to my advantage rather than as an excuse to wallow. I’ll continue to try and send only positive thoughts his way, and use it as a learning experience. If I’ve learned one thing (okay, I’ve learned a lot of things), it’s that I have changed. I’m not the person I was two or three years ago. I don’t have the same low self-esteem I had then. I found my loyalty, fidelity, and, honestly, maternal instincts I didn’t think I had. Somewhere in the last six months, I found my biological clock and now I feel like the crocodile in Peter Pan. I don’t know, that’s a whole other conversation for a different post. Anyway, only three more days until I’m on a plane to Oregon! There will be so much picture-sharing, I almost feel guilty already.

But not.

– a.

West Coast here I commmee!

West Coast here I commmee!

We’re all a little mad here

Basic reaction to a whole bunch of people I don't know reading about my feelings.

Basic reaction to a whole bunch of people I don’t know reading about my feelings.

So, in a completely unexpected twist, the CEO of the gym I joined last week shared a link to my blog and my readership blew up. The first thing I thought, after “holy crap why are so many people looking at my blog today?” was, “Oh SHIT, I was totally talking about my feelings, oh god oh god oh god oh god.” But, then I remembered that I’m human and most of us have feelings, so I stopped hyperventilating. Anyway, so grateful for the sharing of my blog AND for the program itself – four classes this week and all of them were amazing! I’m finally a little less acutely sore, soaking in Epsom salts and eating protein can help with that (in my humble opinion), but sore enough that I know I was working past my comfort zone. Have you ever done push up/sit up pyramids? You do ten push ups, ten sit ups, nine push ups, nine sit ups, etc until you get down to one of each. We did that between circuits including donkey kicks (aka I’m learning how to twerk somehow) and jump lunges. As per usual, absolutely soaked in sweat. As per usual, went out in public afterward and didn’t give a single shit. I’m pretty sure I jokingly told my friend verbatim, “Oh, I’m sweaty and you don’t like that I’m not all cute right now? OH DAMN, I DIDN’T REALIZE I WAS LIVING FOR YOUR APPROVAL.” Not that she gave a flying crap, we’re both pretty low maintenance people.

That’s actually what I had originally wanted to write about. I don’t know how to function around men that I find attractive anymore (nor have I ever really been able to, to be honest). I really am, in the least cutesy way possible, that idiot that runs into a pole, or end table, or wall because I’m physically incapable of thinking of something clever and also being a human at the same time. Which it proving very difficult because my life is decidedly far more filled with attractive people. I also, incorrectly, assume that men I’m attracted to would be more attracted to me if I…oh, wore makeup or did something other than let my hair do whatever the hell it wants. And wear something other than spandex pants. Well, maybe not that last one. Like I said, I’m a low maintenance person. Every once in a while I’ll whip out the curling iron and get really crazy, but for the most part, if you don’t like it, don’t look at it. Did that keep the 60-year-old thing that came directly from a swamp from catcalling out the window of his car “COME HERE AND GIMME A KISS, COMERE GIMMEA KISS” while we were both going 70mph on the highway? Of course not. Some people are just really hoping to be involved in vehicular manslaughter.

Oh, most people shower before going in public after a workout?

Oh, most people shower before going in public after a workout?

But anyway, something I’ve started to learn, at almost a quarter century old, is that I shouldn’t want to be surrounded in any capacity by people who wouldn’t appreciate me just the way I am. I wear jeans like five times minimum before I wash them, have no problem jumping into basically any body of water at any temperature, listen to every single genre of music that exists (except polka because fuck that), I don’t give a flying shit sideways about sports unless I’m actively participating in them, and will happily pummel a burrito when the mood strikes me. If someone doesn’t appreciate that, then I shouldn’t want to associate with them. I spent a lot of time in middle and high school not really understanding that. That the happiest people are the ones who are completely themselves, for all of their quirks, regardless of what people think. I read an article about that the other day, how the “insert stereotypes here” from high school are miserable now because they tried to fit a mold that doesn’t really exist. I read it and afterwards just shrugged, because at this point it just seems like common sense. People who try to be someone they aren’t to be accepted by society in some way aren’t going to end up satisfied at the end of the day. If you want to change, it has to be for you and not anyone else. Maybe that’s years of working with people trying to make positive changes that taught me that, but regardless. I’m glad that I accepted by complete lack of an ability to be a ‘normal’ human being years ago. Guys, I’m weird as shit. And I’m totally okay with it. I will dance in public if I hear any song that could be considered in any capacity “bouncy”.

That’s about it for now; it’s been a really good week. Plus, Friday the 13th is usually a good day for me, but that may be because I set the really bar really low. Like, oh I didn’t get hit by a car today or sleep past my alarm? Other than those two situations being vastly different in gravity, clearly as long as I get to work on time and survive the day, I’m doing solidly. I decided that I wasn’t going to be the person that continues to wax poetic about a failed relationship, but instead celebrate what was and accept that I’m meant for something better. Note: something, not necessarily someone. Because, you guessed it, I don’t need a man to be happy. Though after a month and a half, man, some action would be lovely. Like, shit. Emotions notwithstanding. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to work. Also, Shakira is on and I’m alone in the office and you better believe I’m dancing around.

– a.

Gotta get down to that Shakira, man.

Gotta get down to that Shakira, man.

Cue Rocky Theme

So, it’s been over six months since my last post. I have no excuses, I just had preoccupations. I thought so regularly about wanting to post, even planned posts, but when it came down to actually sitting down and typing…I found myself not finding the time. Not making the time, really. A lot of things have happened for me since August 2013. I quit smoking (again) in September and have not had a cigarette for almost six months. I really committed to it this time and found a voice I had stuffed away in regards to friends smoking around me. And I quit cold turkey.

Holy crap, you guys. That wasn’t fun. Four days of bargaining, irritation, mood swings, cravings, headaches…awful. But afterward I was pleasantly surprised by how little I ever found myself craving one. And how rarely I even think about it now. It’s great.

I messed up some part of my hip/lower back (still not sure) pretty badly in August. I went to the doctor and he diagnosed it as the ever-feared “tweak of the back” that you’re always terrified of hearing. If you can’t hear my sarcasm, let me show you:

hangovergif Shortly after ‘diagnosing’ me, he made a grotesquely creepy comment about how flexible I am. Needless to say, I am never going back there ever again. Unfortunately, I still deal with almost daily pain and what could possibly be reoccurring hip dislocation…or something. I guess I’ll never know. Then, overcompensating, I pulled a muscle behind my left knee.

Basically, I haven’t been running. Or hiking. But on the plus side, I picked up hooping (yes, hula hooping) and have slowly been making progress with that. I’m still doing yoga, though admittedly, I’ve really fallen off with it recently. I used to hoop outside when the weather was nice or do yoga inside in an empty group room on my breaks at work.

Speaking of work, I no longer work at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center (!). While I wish I could have left on different terms with a few people, I have never received so much love and well wishes after leaving a job. I’ll miss my co-workers all deeply. The job itself? Not so much. Working so closely for so long in an often times thankless job is extremely draining physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s funny, I’d searched for a new job for six months while working there, but after I left (without a job set up), it only took me 15 days to have not one, but two job offers. I ended up taking an administrative job at a financial advising firm. Perhaps some things are just supposed to happen.

myjob

My reaction the first time sushi was presented to me for free.

I’m working much closer to home, 8:30-5 M-F, don’t have to worry about my dress clothes getting torn in a restraint, and have yet to have someone yell at me or call me a bitch…so all around positive transition. I’ve been there for almost two months now and I really like it. My co-workers are wonderful, friendly, and competent and hey…they buy me sushi. Big fan. I’m excited to see how this job progresses from here.

I’ve gotten really into meditation, some weeks more than others. But I have to tell you, it really does work wonders. I have one of those minds that runs on overdrive all of the time. As in constantly. I worry and nit pick and over-analyze. I’m super sensitive sometimes. Okay, all the time. But I’m aware of it and taking time to quiet my mind and just focus on being on a regular basis really helps to ground me. If that sounds like you, definitely try it.

Lastly, my love life. For a long time after Manthing, I didn’t see anyone. I didn’t want to, I knew it wouldn’t be healthy for me to try and get involved emotionally…or even physically. Which, if you know me, is a pretty big deal. So I worked on myself, built myself back up, swallowed the bitter pill of rejection (and then pettiness) and moved on with life. I haven’t gone back and read my last few posts yet because I don’t really need to delve back into the mind state I was in/getting through. In November, I (technically) re-met a guy from years before, who I’d known in slightly unconventional way. A while later, we started talking and it became romantic. I don’t think either of us expected it, I know I didn’t, but one day we both just dropped our walls and there the other person stood. He isn’t a Manthing, or Manfriend, or Friend-Who-I-Sleep-With-But-Don’t-Have-Set-Guidelines-With-Regarding-Our-Relationship or any other term from today’s hook up culture. He’s my, as childish as it sounds, boyfriend. Bfriend. My man. Like, whoa boy there’s a commitment there, boyfriend.

It’s not always super easy. He’s going through a lot of transitions in his life (divorce being one…never fun, always sad) and while he has a wonderful support network of friends and (most) of his family, he’s had a lot of bumps in the road. But I see this spark in his eye, this constant unwillingness to give up, and this strength of character that I have rarely seen in someone young. By young, I mean 27. He makes me laugh so hard, tests my patience (necessary), cleans up after me and let’s me clean up after him…like actual cleaning with vacuums, tells me the sweetest things all of the time (not just after we argue), and kisses me like it’s the first time every time. I’m constantly amazed by how steadfast he is, how imperfect (in a good way), how honest. I know that I am a very lucky recipient of him, all of him. And I’m very thankful. And the best part?

I didn’t lose myself. Have you ever fallen for someone (like I have before) and it’s not…really right? But you want it to be so you do everything in your power to make it right? You agree with things you disagree with, you never compromise only give in, you don’t say what’s really on your mind. You just hope that eventually, it’ll be right and you won’t have that nagging feeling that it’s not. I have felt that many times. And I stop doing everything that I love so as to make room for what ‘he’ would want me to love (aka how I feel I should change to be more worthy of someone’s love…not healthy btw!). I never once have felt that way with him.

Somehow this is an accurate depiction of my relationship.

Somehow this is an accurate depiction of my relationship.

When I feel like I need to say something, I say it. Sometimes we disagree. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes he apologizes, sometimes I do, mostly we both do. I still have the solitude I need, time with my friends, hobbies I can do all on my own. And ditto right back to him. The best part? While the future, of course, looks very bright, I don’t feel like I have to focus on it. I can focus on now, today. It’s a wonderful thing.

But one of the main reasons that I found myself writing today, other than purely missing writing, sharing with others, and being a part of the blogging community, is because I fell off of the wagon. So hard. And by wagon, I mean that I’ve gained some weight. I don’t know how much, probably just enough for it to be considered new relationship weight, but I’m not okay with it. It’s not even the weight number itself that bothers me, it’s the fact that I feel out of shape. I miss the way I felt when I was running and using my muscles regularly. I don’t want to be teeny tiny…at all. I want my quads back. So, back on the wagon of healthy food intake, regular exercise output, lots of picking things up and putting them down, and super dee duper accountability I go. This blog’s format won’t change much; I still like talking about things and stuff more so than online calorie counting, but a big part is going to be this transition. Which involves me admitting that I have slacked so very hard. Ice cream all the time. Chips chips chips. Everything must go…into my tummy. Immediately. While I don’t drink alcohol much anymore (byproduct of dating someone who doesn’t drink), which I’m actually a pretty big fan of, I have been consuming astonishing amounts of dairy products. Mostly cheese. And my stomach has been yelling at me so hard.

So tomorrow, I’m weighing myself. And posting it here. And going to the gym that I have been unknowingly paying $30 a month for these last three months when I thought my membership had ended and they just snuck themselves right on into my wallet. So, hello again! I’m excited to be back. Woohoo!

-a.

Boyfriend and me at the bowling alley.

Boyfriend and me at the bowling alley.

A guest post on fitness and cancer

First things first, I was approached by a lovely woman a while ago about sharing an article of hers with my reader base. I think it’s great information and considering that almost every knows someone who is struggling or has struggled with the big C-word, it’s really pertinent. I think most people know I’m a pretty huge fan of alternative therapies or combination therapies, and showing the benefit of fitness in helping with cancer? Oh, I’m so excited.

Melanie is currently a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness.  To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

Fitness and Cancer – A Brief Overview


As many health experts know, cancer can be a very difficult disease to grapple with. This is the case for many reasons, including the fact that cancer can make an individual feel helpless and subsequently fall prey to a variety of negative emotions such as apathy and depression. Additionally, cancer can be a very expensive condition to treat, thereby precluding sufferers from spending money on things that they desire. Finally, cancer can have a very adverse effect on one’s health and increase one’s susceptibility to other debilitating conditions. Despite the health challenges cancer can create, however, there are a variety of things individuals struggling with the condition can do to walk in greater health. One of these things is exercise. View the three types of exercise listed below and decide which type of workout and fitness level is most appropriate for you or for someone you know. 


Light Exercise Recommendation 

 

Light workouts are a good form of exercise for individuals who are not very physically fit or have been advised by a doctor to avoid intense activity. One great light exercise cancer patients can greatly benefit from is breathing exercises. These exercises involve inhaling and exhaling slowly. Some of the benefits that result from breathing exercises include improved blood flow and circulation, reduced fatigue, ability to do self-care, and improved lung function. Breathing exercises can be especially beneficial for individuals struggling with mesothelioma or other lung-related cancers, in which case a lung may be removed. With simple breathing exercises, mesothelioma patients can take in more oxygen and improve respiratory function.     


Moderate Exercise Recommendation 

 

Moderate exercises are a great tool for individuals who have at least some experience exercising as well as the cardiovascular stamina necessary to complete such workouts. With moderate exercise, individuals will notice a quickening of breath yet will be able to carry on a conversation. One great form of moderate exercise includes yoga. In short, yoga is a form of exercise that maximizes the individual’s mental and physical potential through stretching and controlled breathing mechanisms. Some of the benefits that result from doing yoga include decreased cortisol (stress hormone) levels, improved physical functioning, decreased fatigue, improved flexibility, better quality sleep, management of psychosocial and physical distress of treatments, and decreased pain. In many places, cancer centers offer yoga for individuals struggling with the condition. 


Advanced Exercise Recommendation 

Advanced exercises are a great form of physical activity for individuals who have attained a formidable level of fitness. This type of exercise is often advisable for cancer patients who are entering the later stages of their recovery. Some signs that one is engaging in advanced exercises include deep and rapid breathing, an inability to sing, and the development of sweat after several minutes. 

 

One great type of advanced exercise is weight training. Generally, weight training involves lifting weights of varying sizes for the purpose of toning muscles and/or increasing cardiovascular strength. Some of the benefits of weight training include improved cardiovascular system, improved muscle strength, and feeling more energized. As you increase your amount of resistance and increase your volume of activity, the American Cancer Society states that you will experience increased benefits.   

 

Although cancer can be a difficult condition to grapple with, adopting healthy practices such as exercise can make dealing with the disease easier. One of the great things about using physical activity to generate greater wellness while recovering from cancer is that there are a plethora of activities one can engage in. In so doing, the cancer patient is likely to begin living a much more powerful and productive life. 


I hope you enjoyed the article! 

Have you ever had a cancer scare yourself or known someone who has?

What are your thoughts on alternative therapies?

-a.