In the spirit of the holiday, here is a Christmas project I want to share via my other site:
In the spirit of the holiday, here is a Christmas project I want to share via my other site:
So I decided to run a half marathon even though I always told myself I never would. In fact, I remember thinking to myself, “Half marathon? Pfff. I’m never running one of those!” and then immediately thinking, because I’m incredibly competitive pretty much only with myself, “WELL I’LL SHOW YOU!!!” So there I was, in the middle of March, impulsively signing up for a marathon in August. Then I got on the internet and researched training programs, the longest of which was 20 weeks. “Perfect!” I thought.
Admittedly I was really nervous about this. The reason I had never thought about running a half marathon is because I honestly never thought I could run one. Truly, until I had crossed the finish line, you would have never been able to convince me that I actually could. But 20 weeks seemed reasonable, and I was surprisingly diligent.
This is what I learned from training for a half marathon:
1. ) Your Body Completely Changes
You know how you watch the olympics and you see those long distance runners and they all have the exact same body type, no matter who they are? Like, no matter what gender they are? My boobs DISAPPEARED. They just went away.
False. Lady X-Men have boobs.
2.) You Have To Watch What You Eat Just For Convenience’s Sake
When you’re exercising a lot, you can eat whatever you want. It doesn’t matter if you eat an entire pizza because you’re going to burn it off when you run 11 miles tomorrow. In theory. In practice you have to watch what you eat because in order to run 11 miles you have to eat the right stuff. Your body can’t run for two hours on a plate of tacos. Ditto a serving of puffed rice cereal with almond milk. You need lean protein, and it had better be bland or by god you are going to poop your self about 45 minutes in. And yes, there were a few occasions where I had to have someone pick me up and take me to a bathroom and there were a lot of occasions where I would not go for a run until I went to the bathroom first. On the day of the half marathon, I had a plain veggie omelet and a piece of wheat toast with peanut butter. Two hours after I was finished I promptly vomited. Then I ate a burger from Five Guys while icing my hips.
Mmm…nice, tasty bland!
3.) I Should Not Have Trained For 20 Weeks
Whoever posted a 20 week training plan on an accredited running site should have included a disclaimer. Six weeks away from the race, my body shut down. I can’t believe I lasted that long! My IT band was like, “Are you serious?” and my knee just laughed at me (shoulda called the knee the funny bone, amirite???). I rested for a couple of weeks but it was no use. The August race came and went, and I had awful feelings of disappointment and failure wash over me like a tidal wave. Meanwhile the race results were emailed to me that I wasn’t even included in. But such is the nature of the beast and a tough lesson was learned. I signed up for another race in early November, determined to run a half by the end of 2013 and did a 10 week training program. When that one failed due to my knee messing up again, I did a 1 month training program. The 1 month training program would never have worked if I hadn’t learned all I had from the 20-week one, so it wasn’t a waste after all.
Delayed victory: better than no victory at all!
4.) I Wish I had Known My Season
Training for a marathon in the summer SUCKED for me. It nearly broke my spirit because it was confusing and really HARD! There was a scary occasion where my friend and I nearly got heat stroke doing an 8 mile run on a late June morning in 85% humidity. We were pushing ourselves and it was getting rough but we couldn’t figure out why until she realized that we both had nip-ons despite the fact that it was almost 90 degrees. We had to help each other stumble back to the car and I thought we would have to call an ambulance. We ended up buying those water belts for future runs. Once fall came around I was astonished how much faster my pace was just because it was 20 degrees cooler.
Incidentally, those water belts are a just a nuisance when worn November.
5.) Training Does Not Have To Be Insane
I really got into my training, and I mean really, at the end of April and in May and June, I guess for lack of anything better to do. I totally overhauled my entire life to commit myself. I ate, slept, and breathed fitness. I got rid of my Facebook and Twitter. Obviously I neglected my writing here. I spent hours at the gym and when I wasn’t at the gym I was running or hiking or working out at home. Before going to sleep I would scour Pinterest for workouts and recipes. I was logging miles and meals. I only hung out with my fitness buddy. I had never been more fit in my entire life, more strong, and more lean. I had never slept better. I had also never been more antisocial. Weirdly, I had never eaten more ice cream. I don’t know why. I think it was the only junk food I allowed myself to eat, and boy I really made my way through the 31 flavors in the summer of 2013. In just a month and a half I had dropped two sizes running, on average, 20 miles a week, and burning, on average, 600 calories a day. But ultimately it didn’t get me to my goal, because I got injured. I couldn’t maintain peak fitness because of my injuries, and although my half marathon time was actually better than I expected it to be, I was definitely over-preparing.
So I guess the moral is you should try your best (like I did), but do it carefully, because you could end up screwing yourself over (like I did).
Seriously…SO much ice cream!
And now you if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with an orthopedist!
Sorry I have been completely remiss in writing since day 17. It’s been pretty hectic and I have been working a lot on my other site. It makes this post very anticlimactic, therefore, because I’m done! I am officially done with the Whole30 challenge. Shall I sum it up with you?
The Awesome Things:
Oh lawd, did my intestines love me. This is coming from someone who has nagging intestinal issues that haunt my daily life. Eliminating dairy, legumes, and any possible allergens through eating little to no preservatives meant I felt consistently good for the first time in my memory.
My skin was flawless. Not a blemish could be seen and it had that “dewy glow” that pregnant women are always talking about (we get it and we’re not jealous of you).
Being able to drive home at the end of the night is awesome. Being able to get up the next day, run a 5K no problem, and be a productive human being is also awesome.
The Not-Awesome Things:
It’s a fact of life that certain situations require lubrication. Loosening a rusty bolt, certain sexual situations, and social confrontations. I’m not talking about being dependent on the sauce for all situations. I’m talking about first dates and the situation I ran into, which was working a charity event in which I had to walk around selling things. It turns out I’m not really a natural salesperson and a glass of wine does wonders to my confidence.
Not Eating “Normal” Stuff = Annoying
Cooking a separate Easter brunch was annoying, and buying three different types of dessert for a birthday was annoying, and I was sick, and I just wanted to put something in my mouth and it was annoying. Not painful or impossible. Just annoying.
Think Before I Eat, Stop Eating Unknown Ingredients and Unnatural Preservatives
We, or more specifically I, should be thinking before stuffing something into my mouth. Sure, I know it’s going to go through my body, but I’m not thinking of the possible effects it may have. I’m just thinking, “DAMN THIS BACONATOR IS TASTY!” Meanwhile my intestines are like, “What in the name of…oh COME on! I can’t digest this! We’ve been over this! And what is this…lecithin??? Dextrose??? I don’t even know what this is!!!” I think I have to stop thinking of my digestive system as a playground that I can accidentally turn into a landfill. Also, not feeling bloated is a surprisingly sexy feeling.
So now I read everything before I buy it or eat it, and if it’s full of stuff I can’t pronounce or know is not good for me, I just won’t eat it. It’s simple, and it makes me feel better.
Cooking Healthy Things Is Not Hard and Takes Very Little Time
*But you have to have ingredients. Whipping up some eggs over spinach or boiling sweet potatoes and having them with fresh vegetables takes 15-30 minutes max and it tastes amazing and is super filling. That said, the ingredients have to be there. Grocery shopping every week makes me excited about eating healthy things and keeps me planning my meals. It also makes me feel more regulated and in control.
Drink Water. DRINK. WATER.
I have been paying so much attention to my body lately that I can tell the difference between dehydration hunger and food hunger. If I don’t drink what seems like a constant source of water all day, I will be constantly hungry. I’m in the middle of training for a half marathon, so that’s really not that surprising, but still: lesson learned!
I highly recommend any eating plan the involves eating things that have a positive impact on your body, mood, and outlook on life. We should constantly be evaluating our food choices because it’s really easy to be fooled by marketing and no one is immune. Is whole wheat cereal good for you? Possibly. Foods low in fat tend to be good for your heart, this is true. That doesn’t mean eggs and bacon are necessarily bad for you nor that you should constantly eat sugary cereal because sugar coated raisins in raisin bran isn’t necessarily good for you either. Some things are no-brainers, i.e. McDonald’s is never good for you.
I also recommend any eating plan that encourages you to learn how to cook and forces you to try new things. It’s no joke that Whole30 is a lifestyle change because it’s not like there are fast food restaurants serving fresh, preservative-free dishes. This means you have to cook for yourself and branch out. I think that’s wonderful.
Congrats to anyone who has pulled it off and I definitely hope to continue applying the lessons I learned to my current lifestyle. Me and alcohol are getting back together, though. I just can’t quit you, social drinking!
It is now Day 17 of Whole 30 and I am completely used to the lifestyle (as are my friends and family) but my GOD I want a cupcake! It’s the stress talking. I have a cold and my body just wants to eat and sleep. I tried running today and went about a quarter of a mile before it began to feel like my lungs were burning from the inside out. I have had fantasies of cheating and stuffing my face with various baked goods all day.
On a brighter note, Sunday’s Easter brunch was a huge success and we had even the non-paleo eaters gobbling up our delicious dishes. I made a ham frittata, a prosciutto frittata, sweet potato hash (sweet potatoes, chicken sausage, and onions), paleo red pepper dressing, and apple crisp. We also had spinach salad, sliced ham, scrambled eggs, and fruit salad. Did I mention how delicious it was? I had several helpings (in the spirit of being American and it being a holiday) and I wasn’t disgustingly full.
By the way, the paleo apple crisp was an invention of mine that came out perfectly! I minced dates and toasted them with walnuts in coconut oil, then added a tablespoon of almond butter. I sliced two apples and covered them in coconut oil, put everything together in a baking dish and showered everything with cinnamon. Baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and voila: a sweet and tart dessert bursting with spicy cinnamon and texture. For a refreshing drink: fresh fruit in seltzer!
I’m attempting to keep the cupcake cravings at bay by finally getting some chocolate in my body via a paleo milkshake. Cocoa powder, dates, frozen banana, a pinch of salt, vanilla, and coconut milk. It is not the same, to say the least, but it is definitely chocolatey and the texture is great. I know it’s a Whole30 no-no to replace non-paleo foods with “paleofied” versions, but I thought it would be better than an actual cupcake.
Friends, I miss things. I won’t deny it. I miss a glass of wine with dinner. I miss sinking my teeth into a brownie.
BUT! I don’t miss feeling fat and out of control with my eating. It’s been nice to feel clean and on top of things. It would be nice to ease back into it and attempt to find a middle ground between extreme paleo and indulging once in a while.
Congratulations are in order! I’ve completed my first week of Whole30!
My energy and mood are up up up! Running is getting easier. I feel leaner and stronger, I feel cleaner, and my system is working more efficiently and quickly (if you know what I mean). I don’t have a blemish anywhere on my face. I’m usually subject to at least one zit lurking somewhere but am amazed to see that my skin looks perfect! I’ve even received compliments that my skin looks clearer and more radiant. Awesome!
I went out with a friend on Friday and thought it would be awkward to order club sodas with lemon and lime instead of a drink but it was surprisingly dignified, and no one seemed to hold it against me.
I really haven’t had too much difficulty with cravings, mostly because everything I’m eating is frankly delicious. I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of recipes, all of which can be made in 30 minutes or less. I cook nearly every meal for myself and find it easier that way. Pinterest has been an amazing resource for recipes and I’m grateful for its existence.
So what have I been eating?
My favorite breakfast is sweet potato hash (mashed sweet potatoes and sliced sausage) over spinach, topped with eggs over easy (how I like ‘em!). I sprinkled some freshly broiled bacon bits on the eggs for a special Friday breakfast.
Saturday I made frittata muffins. I followed a recipe I posted on my Pinterest page but used bacon instead of prosciutto. They were fluffy, juicy, and incredibly savory! All my taste testers loved them. I, of course, had them with sweet potato fries (I love sweet potatoes, if it wasn’t too obvious).
A Saturday after-dinner snack? Bacon wrapped dates! I picked up some organic dried dates and stuffed them with roasted almonds, wrapped them in half strips of bacon, and broiled them for about fifteen minutes. They had my friends drooling!
Sunday lunch was quick and easy, with what became nicknamed “Cajun Eggs.” I stir-fried onions and peppers in coconut oil, added chorizo sausage I wanted to use up, and topped it with eggs. I stirred it all together with a bit of Emeril’s Cajun spice, salt, pepper, curry, and garlic powder, then drizzled with olive oil and served. Everyone agreed: spicy and delicious!
I tried the “alfredo” recipe I pinned last week for dinner last night, but made it with chicken instead of shrimp and had it over potatoes and spinach. It was great! Garlic-y, salty, and buttery without all the cream and butter. I didn’t think it went as well with the potatoes and spinach, however. Speaking of potatoes, my friend brought over a purple yam for me to try. I mashed it and it had a drier texture and less sweet taste than sweet potatoes. Pretty good and such a fun color!
My favorite discovery of this weekend was banana “ice cream.” I took two frozen bananas and blended them with coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and fresh strawberries. If they’re freshly frozen, the texture is just like gelato. YUMMY! Can’t wait to make a chocolate variety!
I’m excited to see what meals this week will bring!
What are your go-to Whole30 foods and meals?
Okay so it’s only day 4, and I probably shouldn’t be too optimistic, but damn I feel good! I have plenty of energy and my body is quickly recovering from my runs.
I made my first ever frittata! It was delicious. I threw in shallots, diced ham, spinach, and cherry tomatoes. I had two pieces with mashed sweet potato for breakfast yesterday, and I still have six pieces left.
Last night I was surrounded by huge Panera cookies. The smell of freshly baked chocolate and peanut butter meant my senses and my self control were reenacting the Civil War. It feels odd to deprive myself when I am accustomed to controlling portions, but I like the idea of learning to seek alternatives and I feel physically and mentally good after consuming something healthier for me.
I should probably mention that my lady hormones are firing at maximum, so the scent of baked goods sends my brain into a frenzy.
Instead of eagerly and guiltily sinking my teeth into a cookie, however, I munched on a bowl of grapes. Satisfied the sweet tooth, though not necessarily the craving nor those pesky ‘mones. What does a craving mean to you? To me I’m physically hungry for whatever I’m craving and I can’t stop thinking about it! Consequently I had a dream (or a nightmare) that I cheated and ate something non-Whole30. It reminded me of when I ate no carbs for a month in high school and had dreams about candy bars.
I had a nice breakfast this morning. Chorizo sausage, sliced and mixed with mashed sweet potatoes over spinach, topped with two fried eggs. I’m having the same for lunch, except replacing the eggs with yesterday’s frittata. I still have four slices left! I feel silly getting so much food at the grocery store on Monday because I bought way too much. I didn’t plan as well as I could have, but I’m not 100% familiar with my eating habits and grocery requirements while eating this way.
I was perusing the Whole30 website and they remind you not to count calories. I think this is so important. As a veteran calorie counter, counting calories does not allow me to pay attention to how much food my body needs nor what my body wants. It just encourages me to stay under a certain number. That’s not the point of Whole30 at all. If I’m starving myself by staying under a number, I’m definitely going to lose weight. If I’m not eating the right things my body needs, however, my body isn’t at its healthiest. I’m not as energized and I don’t feel as good. My goal is health and fitness, not skinniness. I think its important to acknowledge this.
I think the no-snacking is important as well. I don’t think hunger is a bad thing. So many times we hear “eat when you’re hungry!” Honestly, unless I’m hangry, I think it’s important to know how to not eat every two hours. I’ve gone with the “six meals a day” and “eat when you’re hungry” model for so long that my body is accustomed to eating every two hours! Consequently my daily schedule surrounds food and I’m always anticipating my next meal. This unfortunately is a deadly combination when combined with stress eating. Since I’m eating nutritious things on Whole30, I’m hungry but I’m not starving and hangry. I can totally wait for an hour or 30 minutes. I feel more in control that way. Eventually my body will get used to it and I won’t be hungry between meals anymore, which I’m looking forward to! I’ve also noticed most of the time I’m hungry, I just drink water and I’m satisfied. So I could just be dehydrated.
Day 3 discoveries: morning and afternoon tea (mint, chamomile, ginger peach), frittatas, toasted pecans, and another good blog.
Day 4 discovery: salads without dressing aren’t that bad if they contain different textures. I recommend the Panera Mediterranean salmon salad, without cheese or dressing (I also like it without onions). Mandarin oranges, sliced almonds, onions, and salmon. Sweet, crunchy, salty, and hearty. Also, the Whole30 website. Plus: Frank’s Red Hot is Whole30 compliant! THANK GOD!
Check out my paleo page on Pinterest for some yummy Whole30 recipes (many of which I’ve mentioned here) and fill me in on your stories of cookie envy!
It’s officially day 2 of Whole30. I dragged myself out of bed this morning with zero energy and made myself a four-egg omelet with sautéed red pepper, onion, and fresh spinach. I scarfed it down and didn’t really enjoy it. I have to go grocery shopping tonight and replenish my kitchen with the things I love to eat for breakfast: sweet potatoes! Fish! Grilled tomatoes! Bacon! Sausage! Those are the things that get me out of bed at 5:30 with a spring in my step! Note: it’s probably not a good idea to start paleo without stocking your fridge with plenty of fun, tasty paleo options. I have no idea what I will whip up for lunch.
The food allergy is a challenge. I have Oral Allergy Syndrome, which essentially means I inhale pollens from raw fruits and nuts while eating them and it triggers an annoying, but thankfully not life threatening, allergic reaction (most itchy or sore mouth/stomach ache/occasional throat swelling). I developed it about two years ago and it has been fairly annoying getting used to not eating foods I’ve eaten my whole life. I’m seeing some very tasty-looking avocado recipes that I want to try, like avocado chicken salad. I want to eat an avocado without my face erupting into hives, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I can’t even find a way to cook it so that the pollens within those leathery little green fruits doesn’t make my body freak out. If you know a way to cook the allergens out, let me know! Thankfully, many fruits, like grapes, oranges, bananas, pineapple, and cantaloupe, are fair game. Raw almonds are still up in the air, so I toast them. Let me tell ya: popping a freshly toasted nut into my mouth, still warm from the oven? YUM!
I found a great blog called Nom Nom Paleo that looks like a nice resource. She also has done Whole30, not just paleo, so she’s more on my page. I’ve discovered that a lot of paleo recipes I’m finding call for almond and coconut flour, which I find confusing. I know strict paleo diets do not contain these flours, and since part of eating Whole30 is eliminating anything processed I figure I must say no to processed dried coconut. So long, baked goods! Even the gluten-free ones. I like the idea of getting used to eating a certain way, and not just substituting everything I once ate with paleo-friendly ingredients.
I have been drinking tea instead of coffee and my stomach likes it better. Yesterday I wanted cookies BAD! I thankfully resisted. It would suck to have to start Whole30 over again today and feel like a total failure.
In addition, happy second week of half-marathon training to me! My pace has not improved much, but my body feels more capable of running long distances and my knee does not get irritated nearly as much (I have runner’s knee). I’m wondering if I should get into CrossFit.
What are your favorite paleo recipes? Check out my Pinterest board for mine, and stay tuned for more posts as I venture deeper into paleo territory!
I have decided to chronicle my experience eating paleo, utilizing the Whole30 rules and plans.
Paleo is super trendy right now and I have no shame admitting that I pole vaulted onto that bandwagon. At first I was like, “Eating what cavemen eat? That sounds like the biggest load of bullshit.” Then I read about it more and found that all it really is eliminating grains, dairy, legumes, and alcohol. “I can do that…,” I told myself, hesitantly but optimistically.
Why oh why am I doing this, you ask? I have four primary reasons:
My Whole30 challenge will end 4/17/13. I’m excited to experiment with nutrition and fitness and try something new! I’ve already discovered excellent recipes and found that I absolutely love spinach, tea, and dry-toasted walnuts. Who knew?
Any Whole30 survivors or fellow-doers out there?
For generations, women have been hunting for ways to make themselves more beautiful. Sometimes that involved lead make up or folding a foot like a taco to stuff it into very tiny shoes. Amateurs!
This is truly the age of cosmetic enlightenment. Look no further than Heidi Montag or real-life Barbies as evidence of that. Face/Off is no longer the fever dream of
a mad man Nicolas Cage. The body and face you were born with is optional, so get a new one!
But you know this. You’ve already lifted and separated your breasts and had your body hair repeatedly singed off with a laser. Losing weight with a combination of staples and balloons like a sixth grade delinquent’s science project is yesterday’s news. You even had your cheeks (both sets) injected with the same material they use to seal glass windows at aquariums.
You ask yourself: “What do I do with myself now?”
Striving for advancements in intellect or valuing yourself based on your unique talents and natural beauty is preposterous. The only direction to go, of course, is under! The knife, that is.
Why not try gum contouring? Everyone knows that a person’s value lies in the surface area of their teeth. Your smile deserves to be white and full of enamel, and blasting gum tissue with a laser seems like the ideal solution. Not interested in this minor cosmetic surgery? Try a lobotomy instead! As an emotionless statue, you will never have to worry about accidentally exposing your hideous gums in the event you hear a funny joke.
What’s next for you, you perfection-seeking go-getter?
Why not toe removal? You wear high heels often and sometimes they can make walking painful or impossible. Obviously there have been a lot of times when you have said to yourself, “Damn. I wish my pinky toe didn’t exist so these shoes fit better.” You’re not alone in that thought! In today’s world, surgical removal of toes for cosmetic purposes is within your grasp. If chopping off a part of your body to fit into a shoe for a few hours seems excessive, just think: now you’ll be able to wear them to bed and in the shower! A toe or two seems a small price to pay for comfort.
So you’ve undergone gum contouring and with no less than three toes removed, your Christian Louboutin pumps fit much better. You’re constantly striving to perfect yourself and try new things, but training for a marathon requires too much of a time commitment. Have you ever considered areola reduction surgery? If your areola is larger than a quarter, it definitely needs to be fixed. All you have to do to turn your silver dollars into nickels is set up an appointment with your surgeon. It’s that easy!
While you’re at it: you may as well take a good long look at your labia. Do they seem a little droopy? Floppy, even? It’s difficult to tell because all labia are somewhat droopy and floppy due to the fact that they serve as a natural defensive wall for your vagina, but yours seem less like Hadrian’s Wall and more like the Great Wall of China. It’s okay! A snip here, a tuck here, and you’re looking at labia that can rival any medieval fortification. Speaking of walls, feel free to post before and after pictures on Facebook.
Your labia are trim and taught, your areolas look like a couple of bee stings, your smile has led to mouth modeling, and your heel collection surpasses that of Carrie Bradshaw. Where else is there to go but down?
That’s the kind of thinking that makes you forget about anal bleaching. “What’s anal bleaching?” you ask. Well, everyone knows that sex in real life is exactly like sex in porn. Why not look the part? No one likes an asshole that isn’t pink, so it’s time to ask your local medi-spa to break out the bleach and rub it on your anus.
Take a look in the mirror!
Now you are a modern woman.
Now you are perfect.
Contrary to my cynical, relationship-fearing tendencies: I love Valentine’s Day.
Every year I hear the argument that Valentine’s Day is bullshit. To quote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Valentine’s Day is, “a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.”
Just to be clear, Valentine’s Day is not invented by corporations to make you feel bad about yourself. It is a church-sanctioned holiday with a romantic origin story:
“According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today.” (History.com)
It’s kind of creepy, but romantic nonetheless.
So why are people hating on it?
I think the answer is pressure, specifically the pressure to please your woman/man. If you’re a man, you must get the perfect gift, make a dinner reservation, make a big romantic gesture, “take our relationship to the next level,” etc. If you’re a woman, you must find a date or else you’re a spinster, you have to receive flowers at work or else you’re an unlovable nobody, you must buy pink and red lingerie to be worn (and taken off) in exchange for the expensive dinner you were just bought, etc. Plus: chocolates in heart-shaped boxes.
Everyone just chill out. Valentine’s Day, like Christmas, is not about you. Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love! You have people in your life who love you, and you as a human being are capable of love (unless you’re a sociopath)! That’s wonderful and certainly something to be celebrated!
Who said you have to actually be in love in order to celebrate Valentine’s Day? No one! No one ever said that! That’s like saying you can’t celebrate Veteran’s Day because you’re not a veteran. Like Veteran’s Day, Valentine’s Day is a day of remembrance, reverence, and recognition. It’s to be shared with those whom you love. Not just boyfriends. Not just girlfriends. The famous love bridge in Paris is not covered in locks of only lovers, but anyone in a committed relationship. Parents and children. Friends. Sisters. Brothers.
It’s not creepy to show someone you appreciate them. It’s endearing and noble. Gestures are required in any relationship because we all need validation sometimes. Those gestures should be coming from your real thoughts and feelings, not out of pressure because your best friend’s plans are more impressive than your shabby efforts. Sincerity is always better than diamonds, no matter what Marilyn Monroe has led us to believe. The home cooked meal that you burn the shit out of and consequently have to order pizza in lieu of is far more appealing than some fancy restaurant bullshit you would never eat normally.
This Valentine’s Day, skip the cliches and execute the easiest and most impacting of romantic gestures: tell someone you appreciate them. No amount of crotchless panties or butter-laden dishes from The Olive Garden can convey that you love a person, so you may as well save your money and just put into words what you regularly feel. Tell someone you are grateful for them, because their presence in your life makes you a better person. If it weren’t for them, life wouldn’t be as easy or as joyous, and just to know they are available to share little moments of your day gives life its meaning. That’s what Valentine’s Day is truly all about.
Dear Sir (or Madam!),
I am writing to inform you that I have found your testicles. You seem to have lost them, but have absolutely no further anxieties as to finding the location of their whereabouts because I have stumbled upon them simply while driving to work.
At a stop light, I was astounded to see a pair of silly-puddy-toned testicles with an intricate network of raised veins gently swaying from the rust and ice encrusted hitch of your 1989 Chevrolet pickup. I beeped my horn in order to alert you of my discovery, but it unfortunately had the opposite effect: you sped up, and the testicles were even more noticeable as they swung aggressively between your purposeless mud flaps adorned by cartoonish, buxom young women. Words cannot express how truly sorry I am.
You have obviously been the victim of a cruel prank, and I wish to let you know immediately to avoid any further embarrassment brought on by this egregious jape. The involuntary exposure of one’s plastic genitals is not a subject of comedy, particularly on a morning commute where there may be buses full of school children present. No doubt they all possess camera phones and are posting low-resolution pictures of your shame onto various social networks as I write this.
Allow me to also point out, if I may, that you seem to be confused as to your geographical surroundings. This is indicated by your hot pink “Salt Life” decal, a gross misconception of the phrase according to local topography. This particular area is situated between a river and a lake, both fresh water, and we are subject to seasonal conditions resulting from the Earth’s axial tilt that produces a “continental climate” in which we often see snowfall for a determinate time each year. All these factors combined, I am sad to say, destroy your dream of a “Salt Life.” I feel I would be doing you a disservice by failing to bring this to your attention, though it grieves me to do so.
I am sure you will be relieved to have received this letter. If I can only help one person each day, I am glad it has been you.
DECEMBER 21ST, 2012. THE END OF THE WORLD. PREPARE YOURSELF. IT’S COMING.
Or maybe not. Let’s prepare for that too.
I’m not really in the Christmas spirit yet so I’ve decided to write about our assured impending doom, according to a Mayan calendar someone decided to bring up a couple of years ago to the delight of Danny Glover, who just doesn’t seem to get enough bit parts in movies these days.
What is fascinating about this discovery is not the discovery itself, but people’s fascination with said discovery. If we took an avid interest in every proposed doomsday scenario, we wouldn’t have time to talk about anything else. Combined with the whole zombie apocalypse obsession, can it be suggested that people want an apocalypse? Are we craving an excuse to rid ourselves of society? To abandon the offices and commence the looting? To cover ourselves in the blood of those yippy dogs next door and piss in the corners of a deserted Pottery Barn?
Actually, the desire for an apocalypse makes sense. If a wave of zombies rolls through our town, or a merciless hybrid hurricane-tornado-blizzard ravages the country, or an asteroid hits conveniently far away enough that we survive, or aliens/robots/giant mutated insects unexpectedly go on a killing rampage, we would no longer have to confront our regular responsibilities. We would be forced to reinvent ourselves. We would meet new people. We would probably live in a new place and possibly travel to other new places. We would be required to learn new skills, like how to use weapons and defend ourselves. Most importantly: we would have a singular and very obvious purpose in our lives.
People crave the shit out of having a purpose in life. Isn’t that what religion is all about? Unfortunately the world doesn’t just hand us a “the meaning of life” instructional guide at birth. That means we have to find our own meaning. Sure, a worldwide chaotic event is an easy excuse to make a big change in one’s life, but there’s got to be another way that doesn’t involve running out of toilet paper forever!
So if the apocalypse isn’t going to happen but you are feeling restless and want to reinvent yourself…why not just, well, reinvent yourself? You don’t have to defeat a zombie king, but you don’t have to pack up all your things, abandon your loved ones, and move to the Cayman Islands either.
Start small. Throw away all your old clothes and buy new ones. Sign up for a marathon.
Want to meet new people? Take a class. Painting. Cooking. Language. Start a conversation in line at a store.
Want to travel? Travel! Travel down the block. Travel cross country. Life is constantly happening. You would be surprised what’s happening 100 feet away from your house.
Want to learn new skills? Take dance. Take karate. Take archery. Go to a firing range. Google DIY stuff. It’s fun!
Listen: we all have purpose to our lives. All of us do. I’m not saying we are here for a reason. We don’t know that. Humans are just another species of animals on Earth; however, we have the greatest potential and resources to make an impact in the lives of others, and to be special to others. If you are not special to someone, you’re just not getting out enough. A fulfilling life takes effort, just as a beautiful garden takes cultivating. So get off your ass, keep moving, and make your life what you want it to be. Don’t waste time expecting someone to do it for you.
I have made it my goal to live a fulfilling life. I don’t want to look back on my death bed and say, “I did all I could do,” I want to look back on my day and say that. On December 21st, I will be in Rome. I will be surrounded by strangers, and my loved ones will be thousands of miles away from me. If the world does end, I don’t think it would make a difference were I with them. They know I love them. I’ve told them. I’ve showed them.
But just in case it wasn’t clear, guys (and you know who you are): I love you. I love you for loving me. For seeing the shitty parts of me and still loving me. For listening to me rant for an hour when all I really needed to say was one sentence (and then laughing about it). For making it safe to be myself, which is all I ever want. I love you for being real. For your weaknesses and your humanity. For your quirks and humor, seriousness and dramatic flair. I love you for appreciating and cherishing my love, for respecting me and seeing me as who I aspire to be, rather than the small person I feel I am sometimes. You make me great. You make me want to be great. It’s you guys. You have given my life purpose.
Query: is it acceptable to post song lyrics as one’s Facebook status?
Music is arguably the most popular art form of all time and poetry and language have been mixed with music for as long as human beings could speak. I think it makes sense that people quote songs publicly They want to share something that is beautiful or meaningful to them with the world. I’m just not sure Facebook is the place to do it.
Sometimes I hear song lyrics that strike me so profoundly I want to shout them from the rooftops. I want to yell, “I APPRECIATE YOUR LYRICAL PROWESS, MUMFORD AND SONS! ‘TIMSHEL’ IS A DELIGHTFUL DEMONSTRATION OF THE MARRIAGE OF EMOTION AND WORD!” So, on occasion, I will take my favorite lyric from the song and put it as my Facebook status. Then I feel like a huge loser.
People don’t understand where I’m coming from. In fact, I’ve had people message me and say, “Saw your status. Are you okay?” I don’t think the first reaction people have to seeing, “I don’t want to fake it, I just want to make it” emblazoned across their news feed is, “Ah, yes. Cake’s “Love You Madly” is a cleverly worded ode to idealized love. Kudos for bringing that to my attention.” It’s likely more than half of my friends have never even heard the song I’m referring to.
Facebook statuses exist as a way for people to communicate something specific, like their feelings, or what she/he is currently doing, dating, what candidate he/she is currently supporting. It’s for “LOVE MY BESTIES <3 <3 <3″ and “The Lord is our Sovereign” and “Next time don’t leave your Facebook page logged in on a library computer, dumbass.” When people read the songs lyrics I’m posting, they think I’m trying to communicate something. “‘Beware all those angels with their wings glued on’? Wow, she must be really depressed.” “‘I wanna dance with somebody, with somebody who loves me’? Oh my god, she is so not over ______ yet.” It’s understandable. If some dude is coming to a public forum and saying he’s going to the gym 75% of the time and then posting song lyrics 10% of the time (the other 15% is obviously his painstakingly detailed descriptions of his bowel movements), people are going to think something is up.
It just looks odd and kind of looks like the lyrics are referring to poop.
I think lyrics don’t get enough attention, and a lot of lyricists deserve recognition for their poetry. Everyone likes a tight guitar solo or a tasty beat, but it’s very satisfying hearing a complete stranger state a feeling I frequently have in an artful, graceful way. Sometimes I want to acknowledge lyrics without getting them tattooed on my shoulder blades. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a user friendly and easily accessible social hub like Twitter or Facebook where one had limited characters and could post favorite song lyrics?
For now I will content myself with a Spotify playlist entitled, “Songs I’m Tempted to Quote As My Facebook Status,” and resist the temptation to post lyrics as my status several times per day.
What lyrics move you?
I’m going to suggest something seemingly outrageous: GIRLS isn’t that great.
Hear me out.
No one was looking forward to GIRLS more than me. Actually that’s probably not true (hyperbole strikes again!) but I was definitely looking forward to it.
The first few episodes were a delight. Look at these GIRLS in all capitals! They’re my age! Sometimes they say juvenile regrettable things and make mistakes and try to act cool when they’re really shattering to pieces inside! Hannah has a normal body! They masturbate! I can relate! I can relate to it all!
And then I couldn’t anymore.
Perhaps I don’t have enough experience with girls my age even though I am one or maybe in the time I lived in Brooklyn as a 22 year old I missed out on the lifestyle the show depicts. By the fifth episode of GIRLS, I was forced to admit it was nothing more than a Sex and the City wolf in an edgier, younger sheep’s clothing most likely from Free People.
The show is a great show. It’s entertaining, it’s well written, it’s starkly and sometimes frighteningly honest. It’s a breath of fresh air. I really just think the title is inaccurate.
GIRLS isn’t girls. It’s stereotypes of girls, specifically of white girls living their white lives whitily. I don’t think GIRLS is representative of post-college “girls” at all. In fact, as a post-college person with lady parts, I find the title almost insulting. Hannah is 24 years old and she expects her parents to support her living in Brooklyn. She has an emotionally and often sexually abusive boyfriend whom she tolerates for reasons unknown to me (that face!). Marnie, the responsible one, is uptight and filled with anxiety. Shoshanna’s “biggest baggage” is that she’s a virgin (THE HORROR!) and wait…did I just hear that “all adventurous women” have HPV? Here I pictured adventurous women volunteering at orphanages in western Africa or jumping out of planes. Silly me?
Is that, as Peggy Lee once crooned, all there is? Do we just have GIRLS to represent us as females living in our twenties? We’re not women, you guys. We’re girls! We’re just taller children with hips and tits navigating our twenties “one mistake at a time.” We don’t support ourselves. Responsibility isn’t fun. We don’t make decisions based on what would benefit us in our future or what would impact others. Boys our age are either intimidating or unfuckable wimps. Oh, and we live in Brooklyn.
I have often heard Lena Dunham described as “the voice of our generation.” I hope that’s not true, because I can say with certainty that she doesn’t speak for me. To me, the image GIRLS paints of actual girls is a little muddled. I know “girls” who help support their families. Girls with children. Girls in the military. Girls who own houses. Girls who build houses. Teachers, girlfriends, mothers, engineers, wives, single girls, artists, volunteers, pilots, daughters, nurses, virgins, sluts (hey, no bad thing to regularly have sex when a girl isn’t in a relationship), etc., etc., etc.
We aren’t girls, HBO. We’re women. I’m fairly certain we’ll be navigating our lives “one mistake at a time” for the rest of it. Let’s give GIRLS the credit it deserves as a TV show, but let’s not forget it doesn’t necessarily represent all twenty-something females (people with lady parts, if you will).
Like this post? Check this one out.
General Petraeus dictated his “12 Rules For Living” to his journalist mistress and the list was actually quite revelatory. For example, rule #10: “Stay fit.” Did you see her guns??? No wonder! And yet…”Physical fitness for your body is essential for mental fitness.” Whoops!
Methinks that if a decorated general who lied to his family and country and failed to keep government secrets (not to mention his dick in his pants) can proclaim his rules to the world, then garsh darnit, why can’t I? I may not have turned the tides of any wars, but I think have gathered at least some insight about living.
Here are my 12 Rules For Living:
(SPOILER ALERT: I do not emphasize physical fitness)
1. Always try new foods. Same goes for music. Same goes for people.
2. Appearances are important. Never wear black eyeliner during the day.
3. If you’ve always wanted to do something, do it.
4. Don’t watch a comedy alone. Things are always funnier with other people present.
5. Always go with your instincts and never confuse instinct with fear.
6. Don’t do anything you would regret. It’s not worth it. This includes choosing not to do something just as much as it means choosing to do something.
7. Never be afraid to make mistakes or fail, and don’t be afraid to recognize and embrace your achievements.
8. Reality is always better than fantasy (books, movies, dreams, worrying about things yet to come, etc). People and places are real. Don’t waste time on something that is not in front of you. You could be sharing tangible and wonderful experiences with people who are important to you (or have the potential of being important to you), who are right there now.
9. Don’t be afraid to change any time, any day, no matter what happened in the past. Change is always hard, be it positive or negative, but part of the gift that is your life means choosing how to live it.
10. Travel. Take a weekend trip. Fly to a foreign country. Go for a walk. It tends to simplify things. You’re never more yourself than when you’re anonymous and confronted with uncomfortable or new situations. Decisions seem easier.
11. Forgive yourself. Forgive other people. Acknowledge the ugly and move on. Acknowledge the wonderful and let that fuel your empathy.
12. Always strive to be the person you want to be, a person you would admire if you didn’t know yourself.
*A product of personal experiences, friends’ experiences, and my imagination.
I heard you had a really crazy night last night. Unfortunately no, you can’t take anything you did back. And yes, everyone remembers your completely unsolicited rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and yes, you puked all over your high school paramour’s parent’s front yard. Right all over his mother’s prized roses, in fact. She never liked you, and now has reason for that.
By the way, welcome home. You haven’t set foot in your hometown in close to three years. My, how time flies! That kid who felt you up backstage during the dress rehearsal for your high school’s production of “The Sound of Music” has three kids now. THREE! Congratulations on dodging that bullet.
Listen, the night wasn’t a total loss so don’t feel too bad about it. Let’s focus on the positive things before the bad things, to remind us that all in all, you’re basically a good person.
Things to be proud of:
You bought your high school rival a drink, and felt really good about it. She’s actually pretty cool. You told her you would call her to hang out, but don’t even have her number. That’s okay. You will add her on Facebook, tag that shadowy photo you uploaded of the two of you with the caption, “MEMORIES!”, and that will be enough.
You said only one expletive to the guy you dated during the summer after freshman year of college who cheated on you, and you didn’t even mention his inability to bring you to orgasm. Not even once. Kudos!
You peed on a sidewalk without getting a drop of urine on your underwear and tights, nor were you arrested for public indecency. Impressive!
The cabbie you offered to show your right breast to get out of paying five dollars was really nice about it, especially when he politely declined. Dignity intact! At least in that situation.
Things to maybe not be proud of:
Hurling a cardboard coaster at an ornery bar tender who was ignoring you, then getting kicked out of the bar in full view of your parent’s friends. Ironically, the coaster had your number on it because you were planning on giving it to your friend’s now grown and super hot little brother.
Naming your Cricket team “TEAM WEINER” and then carving said team name onto a bathroom stall.
Taking at least two shots of Jack Daniels and consequently puking in the rose bushes.
Flirting with the surprisingly now-cute founder of your high school’s LARP club. Both of you don’t live in town anymore, so you took him to your parents house and had sex in full view of your varsity track metals. He had the wherewithal to go down on you but lacked the motivation to put on a condom, despite offering him one of the BareSkins in your nightside table. You’ll want to make a trip to Walgreens, but not the one downtown because you may see someone you know. Google Walgreens within a twenty mile radius, and go to the furthest one. By the way, he’s still there and you’re going to have to sneak him out without your parents noticing.
Rise and greet the day. It’s a new one, and though you may not be able to live down the night before, it’s comforting to know there were very few photos posted onto Facebook. Drink some water, take an aspirin, don’t invite the LARP guy to breakfast, and take a shower to wash off the shame. Know that it will have to be another three years before you can come back, but that’s okay. “Home for the holidays” is overrated and your parents have always said they want to visit you in the city.
Last night I said to my friend, “I really think Matt Bomer should be cast as Christian Grey.” For those of you who are not familiar with the lesser-known Bomer, he stars in the show, White Collar, which is on its fourth season (and Netflix), was recently a supporting character in both In Time and Magic Mike, and guest-starred on Glee, singing “Somebody That I Used to Know” with Darren Criss. For those of you who are not familiar with Christian Grey, congratulations.
Bomer kind of looks like an American Henry Cavill with the swagger of a lovechild between Christian Bale and The Mad Hatter. He has chiseled features and a square jaw that could cut glass. He has the messier hair of Scott Dissick and the eyes of the Caspian Sea during a storm. He also has three beautiful children with his life partner, named Simon.
And that smile!
Bomer has long been rumored to be a contender for the role of Christian Grey, and comes up on many peoples’ lists of “Top Actors Who Should Play Christian Grey.” Bret Easton Ellis, the writer of American Psycho, has expressed an avid interest in directing the film adaptation of the novel. He is particularly passionate, not about who should star as Christian, but rather that Matt Bomer specifically not star as Christian because he is “too gay.” According to Ellis, “Casting Matthew Bomer is the equivalent as [sic] casting Jesse Tyler Ferguson,” one half of the gay couple and the only actual gay man in Modern Family.
Pictured: the same person (?)
One of the main plot points in White Collar (spoiler alert, I guess, but this is revealed five minutes into the pilot) is his fanatical obsession with getting his long-time girlfriend back. He’s a con man, and specializes in charming people in order to con them. He plays the character as having a quirky and slightly flamboyant coating with a stoic, emotional center. While the casting of the girl from Percy Jackson as his girlfriend is questionable, he plays the pining lover bit with sincerity. Not once have I thought he “comes off totally gay,” as Ellis argued.
What does coming off “totally gay” mean? Is there a spectrum of gayness, ranging from bearded ex-Marine lumberjack to Jesse Tyler Ferguson? Does that mean bearded lumberjacks or Marines can’t be gay? Where does the kid from Glee with the pleasant Soprano stand? If you’re not adopting a lisp, flinging your hands, and saying “girlfriend,” does that mean you aren’t gay enough or does that make you too gay?
I’m blinded by the gayness!
Zachary Quinto came out last year and I never heard J.J. Abrams publicly denouncing him because he is too gay to be Spock. The role of Christian Grey is of course a matter of preference; however, the argument that any actor would be “too gay” for Grey is questionable if not moot when even his leading lady can’t figure out if he’s straight or not.
I mean seriously, WHO has a tan in Seattle?
Wouldn’t such a contrary character, a tortured soul with atypical sexual appetites who is confused by his feelings for a woman, need to be played by an actor who can express ambiguity, regardless of sexuality? The question is not whether Bomer should play Grey, but rather why he shouldn’t.
Why is it controversial for a gay man to be cast in a straight role when the opposite is not only acceptable, but enthusiastically praised? Both Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal were nominated for their roles in Brokeback Mountain. The movie lost the Oscar for Best Picture and the media claimed it had been robbed due to “unspoken prejudices.” The Kids Are All Right was nominated for Best Picture. Monster won Charlize Theron Best Actress. Milk was nominated in 8 different categories, including Best Actor for Sean Penn. Casting a straight man as a gay man is viewed as progressive, but casting a gay man as a straight man is met with discomfort.
When I told my friend Bomer should be cast in Fifty Shades of Grey, she said “I just can’t see him getting into it.” I don’t think she was saying he can’t be Grey because he’s gay, especially considering her ideal casting choice is Chris Hemsworth, but I have to wonder: is a man less attractive to a woman because he’s gay? The main audience of Fifty Shades is women. They probably want to see a Christian they can see themselves having sex with. In the end, however, this is a movie. The man who most fits the role should get the role. These people are actors. It is their job to read lines from a script and make us believe they mean what they are saying. Sexuality is not a puppet master that controls one’s every move. If the actor is a good actor, he can make you believe anything.
It’s unclear who we should expect in the role. Author E. L. James has been notoriously secretive about her casting choices and the people making the movie have the final say. While we await the announcement with bated breath, one thing is certain: the public doesn’t seem to think Matt Bomer is too gay for Grey. As of yesterday, he is leading the fan polls.
And ladies, there are worse alternatives.
Mary Milliken is heterosexual but would strongly consider going gay for Jessica Chastain or Kerry Washington. She neglected to read any of the Fifty Shades books, and would like to thank her friend Jayna and sister Annie for their consultation.
Movies are not real life. You’re shocked, I know.
We don’t want to see real life. Real life sucks! We don’t want to watch people meet, date, date some more and begin to slowly hate each other. We want people to get married to their soul mate and have secret babies and ride off into the sunset on a motorcycle toting a gun while fireworks burst in the sky!
There is a romance shoe-horned into practically every movie ever made, and most of them would never happen in reality. Hollywood particularly likes to focus on certain relationship archetypes that appear in movies so frequently it would seem they’re happening all the time, when in fact that’s rarely, if ever, the case.
Here are some examples:
I hate weight loss tips. I hate them so hard. Weight loss is so subjective that I would say it’s nearly impossible to give advice beyond, “Buy sneakers. Good luck.”
I have lost 65 in the past two years. I had always been consistently twenty pounds overweight since I had hit puberty, but I was pretty unhappy and stressed in college and somehow gained 40 pounds my junior year. I say somehow like the trips to Wendy’s and Panera I willingly made were a hazy nightmare, but they were very real, and I know they were real because the results of those trips were documented across Facebook via photos I refuse to take down for that exact reason: I will not let myself forget what I did to myself through lack of awareness and self discipline.
That may sound harsh. It’s not like I sit down Clockwork Orange-style for a daily viewing of my fat photos. I’m not ashamed of who I was back then, which one of my friends affectionately described: “Damn girl, you was thick!” I understand why I did what I did and who I was. It’s just that I’m extremely proud of who I am now, and I never, ever, ever want to go back.
Friends have asked me to write my weight loss story down, or send it in to Dr. Phil. I don’t think I’m the authority on anything. I just lost 65 pounds and I am now at a weight I should have always been, but I know this is a struggle for a lot of people as it was for me, so I will share a few pointers based on my ten-year experience:
Yesterday I received a call on an untraceable Vodafone Droid I bought at a Dublin shop. Before you ask, journal: yes, it was a special edition Ryan Lochte rhinestone-encrusted phone, the battery cover flashing a lime green “JEAH!” with the enthusiasm of the sun at high noon. That may not seem inconspicuous to you, journal, but that’s why you are the inanimate object and I am the man. For you see, like everyone else around me, I was taking advantage of both the Olympics craze and the post-Olympics sales. And not even I, a highly paid assassin, can resist the allure of a 5-Euro bargain bin.