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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

should I train for another half marathon?

Pretty much the moment I crossed the finish line for the half marathon a week and a half ago, I have been stressing over whether or not I want to start training for another one right away.

I am not sure why I can't be like a normal person and bask in the glory of running 13.1 miles without immediately thinking of how I'm going to one-up myself the next go-around.

The thing is, I honestly DO NOT want to go through the training again. It's murderous to spend your entire weekend dreading waking up Sunday morning and running for one, two, almost three hours. I hated walking around like a zombie on my beloved weekend. I hated the anticipation and worry leading up to the race.

The only thing I sort of liked was the running. And I mean it when I say I  sort of liked it.

Actually, there was one other thing I liked: losing weight. I don't weigh myself so I can't throw out a number, but I do know that I dropped a few pounds during the training. I felt good, strong, capable. I'm scared that if I don't keep pushing myself I'll gain it all back. I'm well on my way already without the motivation of the training plan.

I guess the answer is clear in reading through this post:

I'm not going to run the next race. My heart just isn't there. BUT, I am going to join the gym and continue running, taking Zumba classes and lifting weights.

Maybe I'll just give myself a training plan and some other motivating factor for finishing it. Because, really, how is a race any kind of reward for completing nine weeks of training?

You know what is, though?

A little shopping spree or, even better, a massage. Yeah, I could go for that.

Anyone care to join me?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Moving forward

I'm convinced that writing, for me, is a compulsion. My mind constantly swirls with ideas I want to form and spread with my world. Too often, those ideas evaporate before I even have an opportunity to connect them to paper. The one I write about below accompanied me on my trip to the grocery store this evening. I thought it so special, I scribbled it in one of the notes pages of my planner in the parking lot before I began my commute home. 

I think I ate the best six inch turkey on honey oat of my life today during lunch. My mind was full as I shoveled it in staring out the window, thinking and worrying about a call I had to make to the landlord as soon as I took that last, delicious bite.

I watched two girls walk over from the optometrist office next door and pause to take the final drags off their cigarettes, one precariously balancing her cooked lean cuisine sandwich and Diet Dr. Pepper on her hip before heading inside to continue their conversation two tables behind me.

I couldn't help myself from feeling those pricks of judgement in my stomach as Lean Cuisine dropped her cigarette on the ground without taking a moment to stomp it out. The nerve!

Not even thirty seconds later, a couple strode down the sidewalk. A little rough around the edges, battle wounds from life's hard knocks criss-crossing their faces. Without even pausing, she bent down for that cigarette and took a long pull before passing it off to her partner and continuing her conversation.

Moving forward.

Witnessing that small moment from the outside, I couldn't help but consider how interconnected we all are whether we acknowledge it or not.

The exchange of body fluids.
The relief of a few nicotine puffs.
Three lives brushing against each other, separated by one's excess and another's want.
Worlds apart, but moving forward.
Always moving forward.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Look ma, I finished something

I ran my first half marathon yesterday. Though I trained six days each week for the past couple of months, nothing prepared me for what went down on the streets of Sacramento yesterday. Nothing.

First, let me preface this by saying I've aspired to run a half marathon since early 2010. Around that time, I started reading blogs from the likes of Skinny Runner and Healthy Tipping Point. Somewhere along the line, I idealized the race as some sort of magical experience. Not sure why, but I thought it would be this empowering go me come-to-Jesus moment.

It was not.

It more closely resembled 13.1 miles of mental battles and death. Yes, death. It was hard. Not hard like those stupid motivational posters that say "pain is temporary, finishing is forever".

It was hard like losing track of what freaking mile it was after mile 8.

It was hard like I can barely walk today.

It was hard like seeing the 11 mile mark and wondering how on earth I was going to make through another 2.1 miles.

It was hard like holding back tears of anxiety before the starting horn and tears of relief after crossing the finish line.

For other people out there like me, slightly overweight and overzealous mixed with a touch idealism, please realize that training for half marathon will likely be one of the hardest things you've ever attempted. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

But, if I can do it, you most certainly can too. It's completely within your reach if you fully commit and are willing to drastically rearrange your life and habits for a few months.

I think that's what I'm most proud of. For me, it's not really about crossing that finishing line. It's that I said I was going to do this amazing thing and I did. I wanted to quit so many times, even entertained the thought the night before the race.

But, I did it. I actually finished something, just for me. I think that made a training plan like this worth it.

I think.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

really, mcdonalds? when did water become a courtesy?

You know something that really makes my blood boil?

Corporations doing their very best to make and keep America fat. I'm not going to pretend that I'm any sort of authority on the topic on food politics, but I do have one personal experience that pisses me off even now.

Let me set the scene:

I had a rough day at work, and like any recovering emotional eater I had one thing on my mind. CHOCOLATE.

I spent a good two hours resisting that siren beckoning me to the McDonalds drive-through until I just couldn't take it anymore and gave in. Emotions won. I was on my way to get one dollar McDonalds hot fudge Sundae.

My mouth watered at the thought.

On the way there, my watering mouth reminded myself to get some H2O to go with my sundae because there's nothing worse than having no water to sate the post ice-cream thirst. You know what I mean?

I pull into the double drive-thru and a woman with a latin accent asks me if I want to try some dulce de apple thing and I reply with my kindest voice, "no, but thank you for the offer."

Totally jars me when a completely different, male voice pipes up on the intercom to get my order seconds later. Damn you, McDonalds! Your savvy marketing gets me every time!

Anyway, I proceed to order. "may I please have a hot fudge sundae and a large cup of water, please?"

"nuts with your sundae?" McDonalds man-boy.

"Yes, thank you for asking"

"We don't have large waters. We only have courtesy waters. You have to pay for large waters."

In my head, I'm thinking, since when did water become a courtesy? Isn't it free? But then I remember some places selling that bull crap story about the cost of the cup to justify charging for free tap water and I reply:

"oh, okay. Well, how much is a large water, then?" I figure I'll spring for the extra five cents for the big cup. It's one of my healthy habits. I try to always get a large water when I go out to eat to attempt to balance out all the processed junk I'm shoveling in, seeing as how water is so so important.

"The same cost as any large drink. Do you want that or the courtesy water" McDonalds man-boy.


Oh yeah, because you know average Joe is probably just going to say  "give me a coke then" instead of taking your rinky dink water cup. Seriously, that thing is four ounces of liquid! Americans want more value for our dollar, even if it means ingesting a liquid that is a proven risk to our health.

"No thank you. I don't want any water at all" I replied.

I've never had a McDonalds sundae since and I do my best to avoid that place. I'm not usually one to get all up-in-arms about evil corporations, but I think that McDonalds "courtesy water" policy is complete bull crap.

I'd rather stick with Starbucks, where I can at least order a venti water to accompany my non-fat venti misto extra hot (and feel like a complete tool for using their lingo so fluidly).

At least they're getting something right in my book.

What do you think? Is McDonald's courtesy water as bad as I think it is?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Breaking the habit

I'm ashamed to admit this to, in effect, the entire world, but I promised myself I would be authentic so here goes.

Sometimes when I spy a very obese woman on a social outing with my boyfriend, I quietly point her out and ask him if he'd still be with me if I looked like her.

It's not the first time I've done this, either. Every man I've dated seriously has endured this question multiple times from my very obviously insecure self.

Tonight it's just dawning on me how completed effed up it is on so many levels.

The first is the fact that I am objectifying the very personal struggle of a fellow woman, judging her completely on the basis of her looks and not, to quote MLK Jr, the content of her character. If I put myself in her shoes, I'd be crushed to overhear someone speaking of me like that. It's just downright mean and spiteful and I promise I'll never do it again.


Secondly, this little game shows just how much I believe deep in my soul that I am only lovable or valuable when I fit a societal standard of beauty. In my 26 years, I've seen the scale peak at 197 and dip below 120. Crazy thing is, I've always felt like the same old me inside no matter my weight. Sure, I felt uncomfortable at my heaviest and received the most compliments in my 120s. But, internally? Completely the same.

I thought the same, laughed the same, cried the same, worried the same no matter how I looked.

I was just Michelle.

Emotional, angsty, encouraging, giving, type-A Michelle. But somehow, the smaller me was more popular, more accepted, more loved. The smaller me could breathe a little easier because, on some level, I believed that people would continue to love me because I was smaller.

Since yesterday, I've been struggling with a lot of body issues. For the past couple of months I've been hitting the gym pretty hard, avoiding sugar, eating better. I've lost some weight, but it's not enough. I see pictures of myself and feel pissed that I let that scale climb back up despite my promises that I wouldn't.

I'm basing my self-worth on the way I look and it's exhausting. Truly exhausting.

It creates this disturbing cycle of unhappiness and I'd like nothing more to break it but I wonder if it's even possible. Is it possible to reject the standard of beauty I've been fed childhood? Can I ever get to the point where I base my self-worth on the way I treat others, how hard I work, living a life of passion?

Of course, I want to say I can, but I honestly have no idea where to start. How does one go about unlearning a lifetime of thoughts and habits?

Can we all just pretend that didn't happen?

Every, freaking time I read the blog of a social media person they go on and on and on about the importance of finding and identifying a niche and sticking to it come hell or high water.

You guys know how much I want to have a this stellar, amazing blog and so finding a niche causes me a ridiculous amount of agony.

It's stupid, really, how much I worry that no one will want to read my blog unless I'm writing about fashion or healthy living or do-it-yourself projects.

That why I wrote this post (in a fit of emotion and stress) about the Finding my Passion project.

I feel like I'm in high school again, trying desperately to fit in with some "popular" crowd when all I actually want to do is write about whatever matters to me.

Because, I actually know my passion already.

It's writing. Duh.

And so, that's what I'm going to do. It's all I know how to do.

I'm going to write about my life, my struggles, the things I'm learning, how I'm growing. I'm just going to be myself and not try to constrain my voice to some self-imposed niche.

I hope that's cool with you.

Because it's a-okay with me.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

San Francisco, how I love thee

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Finding my passion project

I want to be a professional blogger more than anything. I think about how I'm going to make blogging my career almost every moment of every day. I dream of creating a website that affects people's lives in a big way; in the same way blogs have affected my life.

I turn to Healthy Tipping Point for motivation to lead a balanced life. To A Beautiful Mess for inspiration to find beauty every day. To Zen Habits for guidance on finding focus. To Fitnessista for exercise tips. To Dooce for humor and storytelling.

The list goes on.

I'm bothered by the fact that I have no real passion or purpose to my blogging. 

I write whatever inspires me that day. All too often, that seems to be the fact that I want to write for a living and I'm unhappy with my current job. To be honest, I'm even bored with writing about that topic.

Problem is, I don't know if I want to write about fitness or fashion or DIY or healthy living or relationships or personal development or decoration or travel.

I don't have a very obvious interest that would motivate and inform my blog. As a writer, I'm so used to someone telling me what I'm going to write about that I have trouble just picking something out of the blue to focus on.

So, I decided on a big undertaking:

I will "try on" different blogging styles to see what I love most.

Every couple of weeks, I will announce the new focus of this blog. I'll attack that topic with gusto for a bit and then summarize my thoughts.

Hopefully, by the end of my experiment I'll have a clear picture of my interests and make the commitment to a blogging focus for Michelle's a Writer.

I can't wait to get started! I'm creating a separate page for the Finding my Passion Project in the navigation. Please follow along with me on this exciting adventure.

Now, the question is...

What should I conquer first?