Mile 1871: The Stages of Pizza Deprivation

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“If it was up to me
I would’ve figured you out.”
–Coheed and Cambria, “The Suffering”

Miles Since Last Time: 130
Total Miles: 1871

At the start of the “Just Say No” 21-Day Challenge two weeks ago, I was feeling pretty smug with my flawless argument that pizza is not a fast food. The next day, someone pointed out to me that pizza has white bread, which I can’t have anyway during the challenge. So there’s that.

This realization was a bit depressing to say the least. My affection for pizza is such that you might almost call me a human version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—except I’m not a teenager, I’ve never come into contact with radioactive material (besides my cell phone), I am not acquainted with the ninja arts, and I’m not amphibious. I mean, you could say that I have a shell, but that’s really more of a figurative thing.

Anyway, I like-a the pizza. I have no problem admitting that it’s probably an issue I should be concerned about, and I’m not surprised that I’ve gone through what I’m calling “pizza deprivation” over the last two weeks.

Flat-out Denial
But…but…pizza crust isn’t considered bread, though, right? Even that pizza with the pretzel crust? I’m kind of on the fence about it anyway, but maybe—no? Oh, okay.

Recognizing Your Limitations
Maybe I could make my own pizza without white bread! No…no…I’m probably not going to do that. Cooking is pretty stressful.

Disproportionate Rage
THE ONLY WAY TO CURE A STUBBED TOE IS PIZZA EVERYONE KNOWS THAT.

Remembering Your Childhood
Times were simpler then. I could just sit and watch Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers—hey, why isn’t that on Netflix by now? Or Gargoyles? Or Talespin? Or Doug? Or Darkwing DuckIf there’s room for Super Mario Bros. Super Show, there’s definitely room for all of those.

(I may or may not have wanted to be Gadget as a kid–not that I’ve grown out of it or anything.)

Obsessive Counting Down Until Pizza Can Return to Your Diet
Seven days…

Yes, it’s been rough, but I think I’m going to make it. The prognosis is good.

I’ve also retained enough sanity to realize that the return of white bread needs to be a reduced return. I’ve lost six and a half pounds in the last two weeks, so I think that’s what my body is trying to tell me anyway. It only makes sense.

Pizza and I will just have to rethink our relationship.

 

Mile 1741: Just Say No

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“Getting good at starting over
Every time that I return.”
–Foo Fighters, “Walk”

Miles Last Week: 61
Total Miles: 1741

For August, I gave myself the 15-Minute Challenge, where I would do some sort of extra exercise for 15 minutes every day.

I’m not going to lie. I stopped doing that after, like, a week and a half.

BUT I did increase my daily mileage by half a mile and I’m working myself up to the next level of resistance. SO THERE.

I’m sorry. No one was being hostile. I’m just overly defensive about personal failures.

Given my track record on these monthly challenges, I think I’ve pretty much proven that adding activity is not necessarily the way I should be going. It’s mostly a time thing. I’m already spending a bit of time on the elliptical, and it’s difficult to feel motivation to do a whole other thing, too. I’m sorry to disappoint you with my laziness.

Time for a new tactic. (See what I did there?)

@7slimmingsecrets is an Instagram recommended to me by my sister. They post fitness inspiration quotes (that sometimes make me feel good), recipes (that I don’t make), exercises (that I don’t typically do), befores-and-afters (that I automatically compare myself to), and whatnot. Every now and then, the account shares a challenge, like this one I saw yesterday while scrolling through.

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Should I be worried that this isn’t on their page anymore? Probably not, right?
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Of course, my first thought was, “Psh, there’s no way I would do that.”

Then I changed my mind. Perhaps it was fortuitous that I saw this on the last day of the month. It won’t be easy, but I’m gonna do it for these first three weeks of September. I can totally do three weeks…I think…maybe.

No candy.
Last week, I made the mistake of going to CVS when I was hungry. And because they keep all the candy by the registers, I could barely stop myself from adding three bags to purchase and eating them over the last week. I think I’m due for some time without it.

No cake.
I can’t think of any birthdays I’ll be celebrating for the next three weeks, so this shouldn’t be too terrible.

No chips.
I probably shouldn’t admit this in any type of public forum, but I’ve always been a big fan of Cheetos. I can sense that you’re already judging me, but those squiggles of edible Styrofoam covered in cheese dust are freaking delicious. As a matter of fact, there is an unopened bag of Baked Cheetos in the kitchen right now, calling to me. Luckily, it should keep for the next few weeks–actually, let’s be honest, it’ll totally keep longer than that for a lot of reasons.

No white bread.
It’s highly likely that I eat more white bread than I realize. This might not work out well for me.

No fast food.
It seems unpatriotic, somehow, to give up fast food for a while. This is America, after all–the land of golden arches, bells of tacos, and royal burgers. I hope I won’t be found guilty of treason.

Let’s also get one thing straight. I don’t count pizza as fast food. It frequently takes longer than 20 minutes, which is not fast at all when you’re hungry. You can get served in a real restaurant more quickly than that. I guess I’m just saying that I might hurt anyone who says that pizza is fast food. You can’t make me count it.

No chocolate.
BUT DARK CHOCOLATE IS GOOD FOR YOU! Sort of. Ah, man.

No ice cream.
I had a farewell bowl last night. I think I’ll be okay.

Crap. I’m already craving those Baked Cheetos.

This is going to be even worse than I thought.

Mile 1680: Ponderings from the Elliptical

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“Why am I not scared in the morning?
I don’t hear those voices calling.”
–twenty-one pilots, “Ode to Sleep”

Miles Last Week: 60
Total Miles: 1680

Several people have told me that they don’t like the treadmill or elliptical because they get bored while using them. I see their point–you’re doing a lot of moving without going anywhere–but I’ve also found that I get a lot of thinking done on the elliptical. Since you don’t have to worry about getting lost or anything, you can let your mind wander freely. Here are just a few random, sometimes slightly paranoid things I’ve found myself considering over the course of many miles.

Think, think, think, think.. Source

Think, think, think, think..
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“How to fix my novel…hmmm…”

“Aw, man. What am I going to blog about this week? Oh, look. That beetle just fell over on it’s back.”

“If I lost my balance and fell off this thing, I bet my foot would get stuck between the pedals but I would keep falling, causing my tibia to rip through my skin. And of course, it’s Sunday morning and no one else is here, so I would probably bleed to death because I would be knocked unconscious. My phone would slide across the room, anyway, so even if I did wake up, I probably wouldn’t be able to get my foot unstuck so that I could army crawl across the room to call 911–which would really just exacerbate my terrible injury. And army crawling looks hard, especially with a horribly broken tibia.”

“I’m going to die in this gym.”

“Why are sports things always on the big televisions? I really feel like we’re perpetuating a stereotype, here.”

“Maybe I should try stand-up comedy or join an improv class or something.”

(Side note–roughly eighty percent of the podcasts I listen to are hosted by or involve comedians. This may or may not be related.)

“Oh, no, I probably shouldn’t do stand-up comedy or improv. I would cry the first time I got heckled.”

“IF I DON’T FIND WHERE THIS ANNOYING, ROGUE STRAND OF HAIR STICKING TO MY FACE IS ATTACHED SOON I’M GOING TO MURDERPUCH THIS ELLIPTICAL.”

“I wonder what Benedict Cumberbatch is doing right now. Probably something charming and awesome.”

“Dang it. That person is facing this general direction. I can’t pick my wedgie right now.”

“Why does my foot keep falling asleep? I’m constantly moving. There’s probably something wrong with me.”

“I wish the monitor on this thing had access to my DVR.”

“I bet having a podcast is fun.”

“Why do the Silence on Doctor Who wear suits? That’s not very scary. They look like they’re going to a wedding. Sure, they also have bulbous heads with no mouths and can either zap you with lightning or give you suggestions that you’ll follow but not remember because you won’t ever remember seeing the Silence at all–but suits? I mean, what are they, some kind of Secret Service religious order that has the power to shape all life on Earth but that we don’t know exist because we forget about them when we aren’t looking at them? Oh, wait. That actually is kind of scary.”

“I’m hungry.”

I don't know why I added a blank image. I had the weirdest urge to do it. Source

I don’t know why I added a blank image. I had the weirdest urge to do it, though.
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Mile 1620: Sometimes You’re Glenn Holland, and Sometimes You’re Walter White

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“I know what you think in the morning
When the sun shines on the ground
And shows what you have done.
It shows where your mind has gone.”
–twenty-one pilots, “Guns for Hands”

Miles Last Week: 60
Total Miles: 1620

***Warning–contains a few spoilers for a nineteen-year-old movie and a show that ended eleven months ago.***

Sometimes I have minor epiphanies on the elliptical–like the one I had a couple of weeks ago while listening to Alicia Witt on the Nerdist podcast.

I’ll save you a trip to Google. Alicia Witt is a ginger actress/singer/songwriter you may recognize from her role in Mr. Holland’s Opus as Gertrude Lang, the young girl who couldn’t play the clarinet until she “played the sunset.”

Conversation naturally turned to the film, and as they joked about a sequel (Mr. Holland’s Second Movement), host Chris Hardwick pointed out that when he thinks about the movie, part of him still believes that Mr. Holland didn’t get to do what he wanted with his life.

For some reason, I had a strange thought. Mr. Holland and Walter White of Breaking Bad are more than a bit similar.

Think about it.

Both have big dreams–

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Happy Mr. Holland (Richard Dreyfuss)
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Walter White (Bryan Cranston) Source

Walter White (Bryan Cranston)
(Fun fact: I Googled “walter white happy” and there were basically no happy images of Walter White, for presumably obvious reasons.)
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–but take teaching jobs to pay the bills.

(Of course, Walt’s reasons for becoming a teacher are never specifically addressed in Breaking Bad. My theory is that Gray Matter hit a rough patch early on and Walt sold his stake in the company to take care of his family. Then the company took off–hence his major resentment.)

Both have a special-needs son–

Cole Holland Source

Cole Holland (Joseph Anderson)
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Flynn

Walter “Flynn” White, Jr. 
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–a blonde wife–

Iris Holland Source

Iris Holland (Glenne Headly)
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Skyler White (Anna Gunn) Source

Skyler White (Anna Gunn)
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–and a loud, ever-so-slightly obnoxious sidekick with a good heart.

Bill Meister Source

Bill Meister (Jay Thomas)
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Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) Source

Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul)
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They chafe a bit against their situations.

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Sad Mr. Holland
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(Definitely one of the best moments of the entire show.) Source

(Still definitely one of the best moments of the entire show.)
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And their stories end as the men stand atop all that they have built (so to speak).

American Symphony Source

American Symphony
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WalterWhiteDead

Spoiler! I warned you.
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Two men in generally similar circumstances but with extremely different results. Mr. Holland ends up inspiring a couple of generations of high schoolers with the joy of music, while Walt becomes a desperate criminal mastermind/kingpin, gets a bit big for his breeches, and murders a bunch of people that I liked. (Don’t get me wrong. I freaking love Breaking Bad, but there were more than a few times that I wanted to give Walt a swift kick to the meth-maker, if you know what I mean.)

Yes, we can argue about the finer points of each character (Walt had cancer for crying out loud), but I guess what I’m saying is that these middle-aged white men can teach us a thing or two about attitude.

We all end up in less-than-desirable circumstances. Sometimes it works out symphonically, and sometimes it results in knowledge of how to dissolve a body in acid. (Hint: Don’t do it in the bathtub.)

Whether you make music or blue meth is up to you.

Mile 1560: A Bug’s Life

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“Nice to meet you.
Now go away.”
–Weatherbox, “Pagan Baby”

Miles Last Week: 59
Total Miles: 1560

At my gym, the cardio equipment faces a line of windows. On Saturday mornings, there’s really not a lot to look at other than the guy cleaning the litter out of the parking lot and birds scavenging for a meal.

Yesterday, though, I spent much of my elliptical-ing watching a beetle on the sidewalk outside. (There’s really not a lot to look at, okay?) This particular beetle’s back leg on the right side stuck out an angle I could kindly describe as “wrong,” and the poor thing was having trouble balancing its little black body. After I noticed it, the beetle took a few wobbly steps and promptly tumbled onto its back.

Now, I am not typically sympathetic to the plight of the beetle. (I have sort of a ‘live and let live’ philosophy about a lot of bugs. As long as they stay outside and leave me alone, we’re cool. If they come inside or into my space, then we’re not cool–unless they’re across the room and I don’t want to get up. That’s okay, I guess.) But I couldn’t help but feel sorry for that disgusting little creature on the other side of the window as it waved its uninjured legs around frantically, fighting to correct itself.

And it did. I’m not sure how, but it pulled itself upright. That lopsided beetle took approximately three tiny steps before it toppled again.

Then it got up…and fell again. This up-and-down went on for a while. So long that I lost track of (or, if we’re being honest, interest in) the ongoing struggle, but a grasshopper sat in judgment about two feet away on the sidewalk–you know, as grasshoppers do.

By the time I finished working out, the beetle was gone.

If this insectile parable is not a metaphor for a lot of things in life, I don’t know what is. You wobble around, take a tumble, flail around blindly, get up, make a little progress, and fall over again. Meanwhile, some douchebag grasshopper is watching like, “Oh, I never fall over because I’M A GRASSHOPPER and my legs are far more stable than yours.”

I’ve never seen a grasshopper on its back–I’m assuming their legs prevent that sort of thing–but I have seen several fly into windows, which probably isn’t much better.

I digress.

The point is, if a physically unbalanced, five-legged beetle can make it in the world, so can the rest of us.

 

Mile 1501: Butthurt

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“Well, these days I’m fine.
No, these days I tend to lie.”
–Imagine Dragons, “Amsterdam”

Miles Last Week: 58
Total Miles: 1501

Last month, I graded myself after finishing the 30-Day Ab Challenge. This month, though, I don’t have to go through that charade to know that I failed July’s 30-Day Butt Challenge. Actually, I didn’t even do the last week, so I guess I get an Incomplete.

So, for those keeping track, here’s my report card so far:

Planking=F
Abs=C
Butt=I

During the three challenges that I’ve…attempted (I can’t even say completed)…I’ve noticed two things.

1.) The numbers increase very quickly. Sure, you start out at 5 lunges, but then, just four weeks later, you’re up to 125. On each side. Plus three more exercises. That’s kind of a lot.

2.) The exercises start to take a long time. I’m just saying.

It’s not that I couldn’t have at least tried to finish the booty challenge–I just sort of dropped out at the end. The time-saving part of my brain won out and reasoned that I already average over 8.5 miles a day six times a week and, really, that should be enough sometimes, right?

Which is why I fail July. (I mean, “Incomplete” is basically code for “we just haven’t given you an F yet.”)

It’s also the inspiration for the August challenge–you know, since I’m doing these every month now. This is not an Internet-sanctioned challenge. It’s one I made up. Take that, Internet! I don’t need you…this time…

I’m calling it the 15-Minute Challenge, and it works exactly the way you would expect. Devote fifteen minutes a day to some exercise of your choosing. By my calculations, there are two big benefits to this particular test.

1.) Simplicity. You don’t have to worry about complicated things like calendars or counting. Just start the stopwatch app on your phone and go.

2.) FREEDOM! For this month, at least, gone are the shackles to one section of the body. I can lift weights. Do cardio. Have a leg day, an arm day. Paint my face blue and pretend to charge an army–whatever. But I’ve pretty much decided that it’ll probably mostly be upper body stuff.

Shootin’ for an A on this one–or at least finishing it so that I have a 50% completion rate.

Mile 1443: So You’re Feeling Discouraged

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“[guitar riff]”
–Muse, “Plug In Baby”

Miles Last Week: 50
Total Miles: 1443

It happens to everyone. You have a bad day (or week or month or whatever). Maybe you have a bad workout. Or your car dies while you’re driving eighty down the highway. Perhaps you think you might be recycling blog topics but are too lazy to look back through your archive. Or you’re not at San Diego Comic Con so you decide to coat everything you eat with cheese and dip it in ranch. You know, basic stuff.

For whatever reason, you fall into a rut. You feel down. You start to lose hope. It’s okay. Like I said, it happens to all of us.

There are lots of regular ways to try to pull yourself out of a funk (Think positive! Change your routine! Put a smile on your face!), but here are a few methods that are not so much in the ‘just be happy’ vein:

1.) Repress.
Just don’t think about it. Push any negativity down and deal with it in therapy in a decade or so, after it’s sent you into an emotional tailspin. When all else fails, procrastinate.

2.) Vent.
Okay, repression probably isn’t the most effective way to process your feelings. Have a good venting session with a sympathetic friend. Ice cream in the flavor of “stereotype” is optional.

3.) Drink more water.
As far as I know, there’s no scientific evidence that drinking more water will help your mood, but your increased trips to the bathroom will surely distract you from little things like emotions.

4.) Make something.
Write. Knit. Photograph. Paint. Construct. Nothing banishes discouragement like creativity.

5.) Take a nap.
Maybe you’re not discouraged. Maybe you’re just tired. Have a siesta.

6.) Have a cupcake. It won’t kill you.
Unless it will–in which case, don’t.

7.) Look at GIFs of British dudes.
I’m just saying…it makes me feel better.

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Tom Hiddleston’s famous snake hips. Source

Yes, there are lots of ways to feel better pull yourself out of a rut. However, it is important to remember that “looking at Comic Con tweets and pictures” is not on the list. That will just make you sad that you missed it again.

Oh, look–Cumberbatch.