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

I am woman! HEAR ME ROAR!

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As I snuggled in to watch the season premiere of one of my favorite shows last week, Suburgatory, I became surprisingly upset as one of the main characters made her first appearance of the season.

Aliie Grant, the young woman who plays Lisa Shay, looked noticeably thinner than previous seasons. God Damnit, I thought, another ally gone. And it’s not that Allie was ever fat, no, now she just looks like she’s decided not to eat between seasons.

Let me take a step back for a moment. As a woman who is constantly worried about her weight and is considered “plus size” in the fashion world (I’m a size 8, thank you very much), I tend to applaud and favor characters that don’t look anorexic in real life. And let’s face it, there aren’t many women in Hollywood who eat cheeseburgers nowadays…if you know what I mean.  Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, Kirstie Alley, Gabourey Sidibe, I mean, the list is growing shorter by the day. Who can I look at to relate to? And if they were heavier when they started their career, they sure aren’t heavy when they end it. Rebel Wilson has even stated that she’s gotten offers from Weight Watchers to join their program.

So, the real question becomes, why is Hollywood so obsessed with beauty queens? The answer, well, there isn’t just ONE. Last year, I submitted a research paper on women in Hollywood. Unsurprisingly, Hollywood is run by men, and when casting for certain positions, they want young, highly attractive, and thin women to play all of the female roles. Even when it’s a movie or a television series about an older man falling in love with a woman, they want a much younger woman to play his love interest!

Why? It’s because men don’t want to picture themselves having sex with older women, and they don’t want to see it on screen! They want to live out their fantasy and always have this hot, young, object at their fingertips. And if you think I’m wrong, I’d love to send you my paper.

It’s the images in Hollywood that begin to spin the wheel of insecurity for women. And, it’s mostly women who end up with eating disorders. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders stated that only 5-15% of individuals with anorexia or bulimia are male!

At the end of the day, I’m just so disgusted with the way men and women criticize others (especially women) about their weight or any sort of weight gain. I’ll give you a prominent example. A few years ago, I decided to change my life for the better and start running, weight lifting, and positively changing my body. It got to the point where I was working out for about 90 minutes to two hours a day 5-6 days a week. I was eating A LOT, but working out for that long also prompted me to lose a lot of weight and gain a lot of muscle. About a year ago, I suffered deeply from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It basically became so bad that I didn’t even want to get up in the morning I was so tired. The only exercise I could really do without feeling miserable was yoga. Although yoga is great exercise, it doesn’t exactly provide me with the amount of agility I was used to. So, I ended up losing a lot of the muscle that I gained, and added some of the weight back on.

The point of this story is that during the time in which I was losing the weight and staying thin and muscular, I received SO many compliments from individuals. There wasn’t a day that went by where someone I knew commented on how much I changed, how good I looked, etc. Once some of the weight started to come back on, the compliments stopped. I no longer hear anyone telling me how good I look, or how gorgeous I am. Do I miss it? Sure. But it took more work than what it was worth to keep that body. I’m still trying to maintain good health, but I don’t obsess over the gym aspect of my life anymore.

But, what really needs to happen is a change in the way women view themselves overall. Ladies, please don’t be ashamed of the fact that you ate 5 cookies last night…or every night this week. And please don’t be ashamed of the fact that when you went out with your friends and family, you decided to order that cheeseburger. There is nothing in this world that pisses me off more than predefined gender roles. Women should be able to have that desire to be healthy, but to also eat like a man. And if you’re “man” is disgusted with the fact that you ate just as much as he did last night. Kick his ass to the curb and thank yourself for enjoying that meal!

Granny Smith – over and out

There’s Cake in the Conference Room!

It’s 8 a.m. You get to work, pour yourself a cup of coffee, think about what you need to do for the day, and then…you open your inbox…and you notice THAT email, “Sales are through the roof this month! Enjoy a cupcake in the kitchen!!” Your next thought might be one of two:

1)      Ugh!

or

2)      Yes!

As someone who is new to the working world, and who works in a larger office, during my first few weeks on the job, I was completely taken aback when I received these emails two, sometimes three, times a week.

But, over the course of my time at the company, I realized that there are two types of triggered actions that happen when someone gets one of these emails:

1) Receives email, immediately jumps up from chair, heads to kitchen
2) Receives email, shakes head, deletes email, moves on with day

As someone who is obsessed with food, I’ll admit that I’m a number one type of gal. But, I do work with a lot of individuals that are number two. At my company, most of the employees are in their 20’s, and most of the managers are in their 30s or older. And, when it comes to these emails, I’ve noticed that subordinates tend to be number ones, and their managers tend to be number twos. Now, is this because as you age your metabolism gets slower and you’re a bit more conscious of what you eat? Maybe…

But, this topic really got me thinking…In general, is it a good idea to use sweets for celebratory purposes in the workplace?

On one hand; yes. Because not everyone can afford to buy their office mates a new car every time it’s their birthday or their work anniversary, buying a cake or a few pastries seems to be the best option. At my office, I know that when people bring in desserts, they’re gone by mid-day, if not the end of the day, and the person who ends up bringing in these sweets always receives a few “thank you” emails. So, why not, right?

But on the other hand…no. With the obesity epidemic in this country, and with so many people trying their hand at a new diet every week, bringing in these treats releases that initial jolt of temptation, and your coworker’s nasty thought of, damn you, (insert name here), not again!

In conclusion, I always find that bringing in a treat is a bit of a win/lose battle. You’re going to have some people that love you for it because you’re recognizing an anniversary, achievement, or you really just love your coworkers. But, you’re going to have some people who hate it because you’re messing with everyone’s diets, and you might be thought of as “disrespectful”  or “isolating the minority” because some people might have allergies, or need to be dairy free, or gluten free, and can’t join in on the fun. Either way, there will be bad blood.

So, my suggestion: Our CEO is an extremely generous individual, and every Tuesday he orders two fresh fruit baskets for the office. The fruit is usually gone within a day or two, but everyone is very appreciative because it is a nice change from all the sweets that rotate throughout the week. For your place of work, I would recommend bringing in fruit, or, because fruit can be expensive, find a recipe for a dessert where you can substitute those calorie induced ingredients to something a little less painful. And then tell your coworkers about the substituted ingredients. I’ve found that a lot of popular magazines these days willingly provide alternative recipes to life’s biggest food temptations.

And, because I am such a big sweets eater, I usually try to stick to the rule of thumb, “one and done.” Or, if it’s something like a massive cookie that probably has 1,500 calories, break it in half, or in thirds. Never deprive yourself of a treat because you’re worried about gaining extra weight…one won’t kill you, and that’s what exercise is for!

So, good luck with those sweet temptations!

Granny Smith- over and out