Get Loud!

As a child, my parents threw me into every sport available on the planet. Soccer, baseball, volleyball, you name it; I’ve taken a crack at it. Throwing me into sports that I wasn’t any good at helped me in my, what seemed lifelong at the time, commitment to not exercising. I told myself that I didn’t need it and that gaining weight was a natural thing. However, there’s some point in all of our lives where the number on the scale needs to stop getting larger.

For those of you who’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’ve been through a weight loss journey, and that even though I could barley jog 5 steps in high school, I turned to running to help me lose weight as an adult. This isn’t the story that I want to retell. This is a summary of a new “triumph” that has taken place in my life recently that I think we can all learn from.

This past weekend, I ran a half marathon that I didn’t intend to run. I’ve ran half marathons before, but I trained for those races. This year, when my cousins asked me to run this particular half marathon, I told them, “no.” There really wasn’t a chance in hell that this would end well. For the past several months, I have been so preoccupied with other life happenings that I’ve let myself backslide into some unhealthy habits and limited exercise. I’ve just gotten to the point where I’m not as motivated anymore.

A few days before the half marathon, I told my cousins, “you know, even though I’m not running, I’d still like to come and cheer you on the morning of.” One of my cousins, Samantha, mentioned that along with the half marathon course there was a 10K (6 mile) course happening at the same time. I thought to myself, well, maybe I am strong enough for the 6 mile course. Sure, I haven’t ran in 6 months, but I’ve done Pilates and a few strength training exercises, I think I’ll be fine.

Even though I had plenty of lead time, race day came sooner than expected. I was scheduled to pick Samantha up at her apartment the morning of. And, of course, she was running late. After she was finally ready, I looked down at the clock when we climbed into the car and realized that we wouldn’t make the start time. “Its fine,” she said, “we’ll just start our 10K race when the half marathon starts. We’ll still run the right course.”

The gun went off for the half marathon, and there we went. “I’ll stick with you so that we both don’t miss the 10K exit,” she exclaimed. Perfect, this chick, who is one of the fastest people I’ve ever ran with, has decided to move her run time to sloth pace, instead of the preferred gazelle, just to make sure poor little me doesn’t get left behind. Wow, how helpless am I?

As we reached the two mile mark, we realized that the exits for the 10K were blocked off. There was no way we were going to be able to do the 10K course. Fuck. At the five mile mark, Samantha ditched me. We both realized at that point that we were going to have to run the half marathon whether we wanted to or not, and she was not about to sloth pace through the rest of it.

***

Mile 7, about half way finished. I could smell the gasoline as I past the local Mobile station. And, I could smell the breakfast menu from the restaurant down the street. I felt disgusted. A man on the sidelines cheered, “Way to go, you’re half way there!” and I wanted to slap him. I couldn’t possibly continue. I felt like I could barely breathe.

As cops and paramedics whizzed by me on their bikes and in their golf carts, it took every ounce of resistance I had not to yell, “Officer, help! I’m on the wrong course. Can I get a lift to the finish line? I don’t feel well.”

***

I’ve made it to mile 8…after walking a majority of mile 7. I notice a pile of vomit on the course. Whoever did that, I get you. We are one in the same.

***

I’m on mile 10 and I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. And then, I realize that I have another 5K left to run before I cross home plate. There is a man running next to me. He’s probably in his late 60’s. He’s decided that he’s fed up too, so he begins to power walk. I have slowed my jog to a crawl…that is apparently as fast as this man’s power walking speed. What’s the point of life?

***

Finally! We’re in the home stretch! There’s a man in front of me who is clearly having issues with his calf. He’s jogging with a limp, and I still can’t seem to pass him with my run/walk/jog routine.

***

Here we are, the finish line. The man with the calf issue is now skipping and limping, but he finishes strong…at the same time I do.

***

I surprisingly crossed the finish line and was only 12 minutes worse than the time I had the year before. I felt so low and disgusted with myself. How could I let all these people pass me? Why did I stop to walk? I never stop to walk! But, with “tragedy” comes a bit of clarity. I realized why I kept up with running when I started a few years ago. Throughout my younger years, I hated running because I always wanted to be faster than the people around me. It wasn’t until I realized that the only person you truly need to compete with while you run is yourself. Push yourself to finish, take it at your own pace. You don’t have to be better than the others around you, you just need to be louder than the negative voices in your head telling you to stop or that you can’t do it. There are so many people out there who don’t run because they think they’ll look stupid, or that you have to be an all-star athlete to run a mile. I’m living proof that you don’t have to. You just have to take it slow, and push yourself to be better than what you were yesterday.

It’s time to start getting louder than the voices in your head, because you’re worth it.

Granny Smith – over and out

Luck to be a Lady

I open my eyes and I’m greeted with a stabbing pain. My head is throbbing, and I feel like someone is sitting on my belly button. I think my pelvis was shattered. They said I lost a lot of blood, but they’re doing what they can to make me comfortable: heating pads, chocolate, soft pillows. I’m an emotional wreck. Everything seems to be triggering some form of anger, sadness, and confused complication in my body. They tell me that this too shall pass…

Unfortunately, being a woman is not a phase, and I’ve struggled with it my entire life; the monthly gift (as described in the example above), weight gain, societal pressure, family pressure, unworthy pressure that I’ve put on myself, all of it. Today is International Women’s Day, and I can’t think of a better day to talk about what it’s like being one.

When you’re a girl, you see images of Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, and Ariel, and you think to yourself, I want to be them, I want their life. I want to look like them, have their problems, and their happy endings. I remember being really little and standing on my bed, looking at the moon and dreaming of a life like Cinderella’s (the ending of course). I even dug around in my mother’s beauty drawer for a thick, black hair tie, just like the one Cinderella had, so that I could pull my hair back, just like she did in the movie.

As I grew, I wore dresses, painted my nails, applied makeup; I had a field day trying to look like a lady. But, still, when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a girl with pale skin, nasty zits, glasses, and frizzy hair who was gaining weight by the minute. Boys NEVER looked at me…especially when I was going through my ugly phase…which was from 2nd grade to about my sophomore year of high school. I noticed all the girls in classes around me finding guys in middle school, and I was looked at as an ugly freak. I thought, how can I change?

As time went on, like any other woman, I saw images of Hollywood celebrities, their hair, makeup, weight, and tried to imitate them. I bought their clothes, went and got my hair done, researched how to tone my muscles while sitting at my desk, and the best brands of makeup for my skin. Still, I never looked like those women in Hollywood. Hell, there are celebrity women in their 50s that look better and are healthier than I will ever be!

And, not only did I feel pressure in regards to my looks, but sex. As a woman, you’re expected to be this sweet and innocent girl in public, but once you lock your bedroom door, men want you to turn into this wild animal! I remember the first few times I had sex, I didn’t know what to do with my hands, what to say, anything. I thought that I was supposed to sit back and let him take control of my body. It’s his for the taking; right?

Looks, the bedroom, and even the work force seem to control society’s perception of women. I remember when I entered my first job and realized that I wasn’t making as much as the man (who was doing the same work and at the same level of experience) sitting next to me because I had a vagina. Really? But, I suppose women are an awful investment. If they’re not engaged to be married when they start working for your company, they probably will be in no time. So, if they get married and their husband wants to move away because of a promotion, poof, they’re gone. Then, if he wants to have children, of course, someone might have to stay home. But, how can he stay home? He just got that promotion? He’s top dog! And, companies hate maternity leave. You might as well ask to go part-time, or just save the company some time and never come back. Why invest in a woman, they’ll just leave! Ugh…

But, when you think about it, I don’t know if I’d want to be a man either. Society tells them that they can’t cry or show emotion when they feel it. They can’t be the runt of any sports team, otherwise they’ll get picked on. They have to be tall, have six pack abs, and watch ESPN. They have to make others feel like they’ve earned the penis God’s given them. And, if they want a female partner, they better make sure they’re able to provide. They’re the one who’s going to have to work long hours, make connections, and do everything in their power to make sure that at the end of the day he still has gas left in the tank to have sex with his wife. And, what about that wife? Is she pretty? Does she do meaningful work? How many women did he have sex with before he married her? How much action does he receive on a regular basis now that he’s married? It’s all important. It all counts toward their “manhood points.”

I don’t know if I’d want that specific pressure that comes with being a man. I couldn’t tell you what’s worse. But, what I can tell you, is that pressure to be anything other than who you truly are is awful. If you’re a woman, but like being a “tom boy,” who gives a shit? If you’re a man, but enjoy The Notebook, I’m not going to judge you. Shouldn’t the message we spread to one another be, “Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You,” Instead of, “be a man,” or “act like a lady”…?

Granny Smith – over and out

A Day Without Peanut Butter and Other Nutritional Mishaps

I’ve written a bit about it before, but my nutritional journey has been fairly similar to a lot of other individuals; some days, it looks like I’m on the right path, and others, I feel like a fat child who’s received free range at a local doughnut shop. My health has gone up and down over the years, but like many of you, I’m looking to get it back on track.

As a child, I was raised with two grandmothers who made sweets…ALL.THE.TIME! Sweets are my downfall, but I know that it’s something I need to eliminate. Couple my love off sweets with my moderate exercise routine, and I was….an average sized child. As I got older, I quit a lot of the sports that I joined as a kid. One summer, I decided that TV was going to be my best friend, and I gained about 15-20 pounds…in three months! I stepped into the first day of the following school year unrecognizable. And, ever since that summer, it’s been a struggle for me to lose any weight…and keep it off!

But, I found myself on an exercise kick years later and managed to lose about 30 pounds and shed some inches! I felt good, but not skinny enough. As I strived to keep losing, my body shut down and I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. I was constantly going that I had forgotten to get proper sleep. And finally, it had caught up with me. Once I was diagnosed, it was hard to bounce back. No matter how much sleep I got, I was still tired the next day. I was doing yoga almost every day, but I was losing my results; my muscle was slowly turning back into fat.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I joined a zumba class and started to get my body working again. And, recently, I’ve joined Team BeachBody as a coach and have completed programs like the 21 Day Fix, Rockin’ Body, and Hip Hop Abs in order to get myself back on track. I’ve started drinking a protein shake that helps cut cravings, and I’m reading a great book by Maria Menounos, “The Everygirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness,” which has workout tips, nutritional information, and a plan to help you live a more active life.

While all of this wonderful information is coming in, I keep hitting brick walls and getting flustered. It’s hard for me to resist sweets and my favorite restaurants. I was reminded of how important my health is this week when I came down with a terrible cold. I still haven’t bounced back, but it’s making me refer back to my old ways. I’m not exercising as much as I should be, and I’m eating with more of a carefree attitude. That’s definitely NOT a part of the plan!

So, what can you do if you constantly feel like you’re hitting a brick wall like me? Going back and forth, not being able to truly commit to something is the worst. I’ll share with you a trick from Maria Menounos. At first, enjoy what you want, but start cutting back you’re food intake and moving more. It’s simple! Say you typically have 8 slices of pizza for dinner, try eating only 7 and then have a side salad. Week by week, cut back a bit more and make that salad bigger, and soon you will be eating 1 or 0 slices of pizza and enjoying the salad! Second tip: move more! Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. Instead of parking close to the store, park further away in the parking lot. By making small changes today, you can create healthier habits that last a lifetime! Make goals for yourself, start a food journal. See what you’re eating and what you’re doing every day, and think about how you can improve.

For me, I eat peanut butter daily. So, one day, I said to myself, “Let’s see if I can go the whole day without peanut butter.” And, when I accomplished that, I tried two days, three, four, five. Before I knew it, I had gone ten days without peanut butter. Simple, small cut backs and additions can get you back on track.

Have a happy and healthy life! And remember, we’re in this together!

Granny Smith – over and out

The Dreaded Ex

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Ah, yes, the ex. Most of us have at least one or more, and one of mine walked down the aisle last weekend. As I watched the pictures of his lovely day pop up on my Facebook page, I couldn’t help but think, what the hell did I ever see in that guy?  By the looks of the pictures, he’s gotten fatter and more obnoxious. All of this got me thinking about our relationship, and what a disaster it was!

As some of you may know, I’m writing a book about my past relationships and some specific situations I’ve been in where the outcomes were NOTHING like what I thought they were going to be. And, I would love nothing more than to share the story of myself and…(we’ll call him) John with you. Enjoy, and please comment with your own experiences!

 

Uck, John. Do I have to talk about him? Fine; here goes nothing…

 I met John in history class my freshman year of high school, and coincidently, we had three other classes together that year. I thought he was cool because he had on some dumb shirt about AC/DC and farts…I don’t remember how they were related, so I’m not even going to try and explain…Anyway, the two of us became close because I loved his charm and sense of humor and he loved my hair and how polite I was. But, not even a month had passed in the start of my new adventure called “high school” and I found out that not only did John not see me as a sex object, but he preferred my dork ass neighbor, Becky. Becky is probably one of the nicest girls you will ever meet, but she’s really into stupid shit like reality TV, snorting while she laughs, and wearing crocs and a tube top…not real cute.

Needless to say, their relationship didn’t last long, and after they broke up, I was looking forward to pouncing on that man meat! And, while John was taking his sweet time healing his broken heart, I was making sure that I was constantly on his mind, or at least in his line of vision. Like I said, we had half of our classes together that year, and our lockers were fairly close, so we were almost always in the same vicinity. Many months were spent comprised of constant flirtation and “buddy buddy” jokes. This period in my life was probably nauseating for some, and I get that, but what else was I supposed to do? I wanted him, so I had to play along!

On one particular day, I went to school and I was SURE that he was going to ask me out. We had been flirting for a long time and friends for what felt like eternity! As I was gathering my books for the beginning of the day, I noticed him standing in the hallway near my locker. As I looked up to make eye contact, I witnessed him cross the isle and lock lips with another girl from our class! THE FUCK! Really? Again? I’d been that bastard’s best friend! I responded to his cues correctly every time without missing a beat! Who is this bitch and how do I get him to realize that she is NOT the one for him? She’s not even PRETTY!….So much anger and confusion was all I felt for the next few days. I later learned that her name was Bethany and they had been in a class together all year. But, he’d never mentioned this “Bethany” girl to me before! I felt played, used, and once again, like I wasted my precious time and energy. I was done!…or so I thought.

Bethany and John dated for about 9 months, which in high school time is about 3 years. And, needless to say, their relationship came crashing down all because of me. One weekend right before school started, my family and I went to the high school to catch one of the first football games of the season. That summer, even though John was still with Bethany, I had tried to get his attention multiple times by visiting the park near his house and waiting for him to come outside…creepy, I know, but these we pre-Facebook days!! As my family stumbled into the stadium I kept thinking that the summer had been a complete loss because I never got his attention, and now we would probably have to start back at square one when we entered the upcoming school year. But, to my surprise, as I looked up into the stands I saw John and his best friend Chris enjoying the start of the game. I tried to pretend like I didn’t notice him, but he caught on and came to visit me and my family.

As we started talking, John became extremely overbearing when discussing his plans for the upcoming school year. He talked about how he was going to play a lot of sports, take multiple AP classes, oh yeah, and he was going to take me to homecoming. I was in complete shock! “You’re still with Bethany,” I said. “Yeah, I’ve been thinking about dumping her,” he said with no shame. “I’ll have to think about it,” I replied…and just like that, there was my cue. The game was over and my parents summoned me to the car. “THINK ABOUT IT!” he called after me, and I began running towards the exit.

About a week later, a new school year started and on one of the first days, John and Bethany broke up. When I asked him how everything went down, he told me bluntly, “I just told her that I was into you so I couldn’t date her anymore.” “YOU SAID WHAT?!” I shot back. And then, literally, every day for the remaining semester, Bethany would give me the stink eye every time I passed her in the hallway. To think that I had been the cause of someone’s breakup NEVER would have crossed my mind in a million years. Sure, I’d seen shit like this on TV, but I never thought that it would happen in MY life!

The next obstacle to tackle was homecoming. John would not let up! He asked me to go with him every day. “I don’t know,” I said. “Bethany is like REALLLLLYYYYYY pissed at me.” I feel like, if I go with you, she might attack me during the dance.” “Don’t worry about her,” he calmly mentioned, “I’ll deal with it.” Whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.

Eventually, since it had been my dream in the first place, and because I heard through the grape vine that he was going to take my best friend, Stacey if I said “NO” one more time, (in his words, “you have to keep your options open”) I went with John to the dance. The night started out great, and I made sure the steer clear from Bethany. Then, while hanging out in the back of the dance floor, John planted a kiss right on my lips. It was my first kiss, but I had no idea it was coming. I felt like I had lost that one moment that every girl dreams about because it was so quick and I had no idea what was happening. I finished the night a little pissed, but happy that we’d made an awesome memory in our relationship. I didn’t realize it then, but I was about to become even more pissed as time went on…

Every day since we started dating, John and I would eat lunch together with a bunch of our band friends. One day, a friend of a friend named Matt asked to eat lunch with us. Matt sat across from me, and we quickly hit it off. I met Matt a year earlier, but we never had gotten the chance to REALLY know each other. Every day at lunch, I would look forward to our conversations. Matt was hilarious and had a wonderfully positive perspective on life. Unfortunately, all of my conversing with Matt made John extremely jealous. “You’re supposed to be talking to me at lunch,” he said, “I’M your boyfriend.” “Jesus, sorry that I’m polite,” I yelled back, “I’m just trying to make peace with a stranger.” From that day forward, I tried to talk to John more and ignore Matt, but it was just so hard, Matt wasn’t “in” on “the plan” and you could tell that he didn’t understand why I chose to ignore him. So, eventually, I gave up and thought Tough shit, John will just have to deal with the fact that I have male friends.

Throughout the month that John and I were “together” we went through a lot of ups and downs (more ups and downs than I’ve had with friends that I’ve known for 15 plus years). The day before our high school band’s big trip, I decided that I was going to break up with John. I had never broken up with anyone before, but I knew it had to end. He was such a cocky asshole. The morning of my planned break up, I couldn’t find him at his locker, so I walked into the band room. “Ah, there you are,” he said, “I need to talk to you.” “Good, because I need to talk to you too,” I shot right back. We moseyed out into the hallway where he stated, “ladies first,” and gave me the floor. And, there it was, my shot to claim the end of our relationship, and I blew it. “No, you first,” I said. “Ok,” he exclaimed with a confused look. “I think we were better off as friends, and I think we need to break up,” he said. “I completely agree!!” I said…with almost too much enthusiasm. “Well…” he said. “Well, ok, see yeah,” I said, and walked back to my locker. The funny part was, I wasn’t even sad. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could finally go back to living my life. John had sawed the bars off of my jail cell and told me to “run like the wind.” I remember running into John’s friend Chris in the hallway after it all happened. “How you doin’,” he said. “Fine, why?” I shot back. “Well, I know that John broke up with you,” he stated. “What? How did you know that? It LITERALLY JUST HAPPENED!” “John told me on the way to school this morning that he was going to do it,” Chris said.

That son of a bitch.

As always, another failed relationship in my book means another life lesson, and with John, I learned multiple. First off, if someone is pressuring you to date them, there’s your first red flag. Obviously this person doesn’t fully care about your wants and needs (or you in general) if they’re applying any form of emotional pressure. And, for the love of all that is holy, don’t date the jealous type. John made me feel awful for being friends with other guys and not devoting all of my attention to him when we were out and about…and seriously, that’s just bullshit, and it probably means that the person who is the “jealous type” is self conscious. And I’d have to say the biggest lesson of them all, be friends with the person before dating them. Yes, John and I were friends for a year before deciding to date, but we weren’t really friends. I mean, I hung out with him during the school day sometimes, and we had a lot of the same classes, but I never hung out with him outside of school or even during the summer. I never found out who he truly was…and that probably would’ve saved me a lot of time.

Update: Shortly after John and I broke up, I found out that not only was he a huge cocky asshole, but he was also a psychopathic liar. He ended up telling one of my guy friends that while he was dating Bethany, “I used to call him all the time and we would talk on the phone for hours.” He told my friend that it was like he was dating two women at once. Unfortunately, no matter how big John’s dreams get, that one was, nor will ever be, true.

John went on to date one of my worst enemies shortly after we broke up, and I’m happy to report that they’re newlyweds. John also went on to school to become a firefighter, and he currently lives with his (beautiful) bride far, far away from me.

As always, I wish them the best….sort of.