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.

 

Mile 1393: The Plight of the Uncoordinated

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“Tighten up on your reigns.
You’re running wild, running wild. It’s true.”
–The Black Keys, “Tighten Up”

Miles Last Week: 57
Total Miles: 1393

Can someone please explain to me how to do a proper squat without falling over?

For a couple of days over the last week, I’ve replaced lunges with squats to add some variety (ahem, to save time) during the booty challenge.

I’m familiar with the concept of the proper squat: back straight, thighs parallel with the floor, and knees not to extend over your toes. I just can’t seem to do all of this at the same time.

 

But really, how is she not falling backward? Source

But really, how is she not falling backward?
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If I keep my thighs parallel with the floor, my knees extend over my toes. If I keep my back straight, my thighs don’t stay parallel to the floor. If I keep my knees from extending over my toes, nothing does what it’s supposed to.

It’s like workout whack-a-mole.

Doing lunges is even worse. I look like someone trying to fake her way through a sobriety test in the wee hours of a stereotypical New Year’s morning.

Such is the lot in life for the massively uncoordinated. Normally, I’d just shrug and accept that I would never do squats or lunges perfectly,  and would your knees extending over your toes be the worst thing to happen, anyway?

But form is important–so is not falling over. After all, if you don’t do exercises correctly, you can hurt yourself. No one wants that. Sometimes you just have to suck it up (or in, as it were) and do it til you get it right.

It’s probably a core thing, right? It seems like it might be a core thing. Pretty much everything is a core thing.

Don’t make me go back to planking. I won’t do it.

Mile 1336: Femi-Fitness

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“Take this weapon, forged in darkness.
Some see a pen. I see a harpoon.”
–twenty-one pilots, “Ode to Sleep”

Miles Last Week: 57
Total Miles: 1336

I’m not gonna lie. Lately, I’ve been kind of lacking on brilliant blog topic ideas–as you’ve undoubtedly noticed. Today, I was scrolling through Pinterest to find any topic inspiration at all, and I came across this bit of motivation:

Um, what?

In case you missed the subtext, these ten words seek to drive your enthusiasm for exercise by suggesting that a boy will like it.

Seriously? Yeah. Okay…

Working out is obviously going to change your body (kind of the point), but going to the gym to please someone else is just… sigh.

Do I really need to go into the whole ‘women don’t exist to please men’ spiel? Does the Internet really need another tirade about ridiculous, outdated gender attitudes?

Well, if those attitudes are going to persist, I guess we have to continue those crazy feminist rants. (If you’re imagining me waving my hands around in a sarcastic manner when I say those last three words, your mental picture of me is pretty accurate.)

Let’s keep this simple.

The only reason to be worried about the effect your workout has on someone else’s knees is if that person is spotting you. In that case, you’ll probably want his (or her–yay, political correctness!) knees to not be weak.

Whether you are a man or a woman, you should only have one reason for exercising: your health. Do it to make yourself feel better and stronger. Do it to channel your own focus and energy. If other people have a positive or negative opinion about it, that’s awesome for them. But how they react isn’t particularly your responsibility.

Now, let’s get some real motivation from some more positive corners of the Internet.

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Please ignore the bad punctuation. The sentiment is what’s important. Source

Always good advice. Source

Always good advice.
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Mile 1279: That’s Not What WE Called That

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“My body tells me no, but I won’t quit
‘Cause I want more, ‘cause I want more.”
–Young the Giant, “My Body”

Miles Last Week: 57
Total Miles: 1279

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of references online to these things called burpees. Since I didn’t know what they were, I did a little research.

According to Wikipedia–

–which looks something like this.

This actually looked familiar to me. I don’t know about you, but at my middle school (which was probably the last time I did them), we called these squat-thrusts. Because, you know, that’s what you’re actually doing–squatting and thrusting.

According to Oxford Dictionariesburpees are named after Royal H. Burpee, the American psychologist who invented the exercise as a fitness test (KNOWLEDGE!). Of course, to me, the name sounds like some sort of abdominal exercise that involves expelling excess gas through your mouth. You should probably say “excuse me” afterward.

Don’t judge me. You know you were thinking it.

I can’t say that  I’ll be incorporating burpees/squat-thrusts into the booty challenge, but I just wanted to spread my wisdom. Burpees=squat-thrusts. And Burpee was a real guy. So, I probably shouldn’t joke about his name.

Knowledge!