Mile 2644: You Are Not the Only One With Crazy

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“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
–Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Miles Last Week: 58
Total Miles: 2644

In the past, I’ve had a friend or two and such apologize to me for some sort of crazy, be it their own or someone else’s. I typically just shrug it off and tell them not to worry about it, but some personal things have happened in the last couple of days that make me want to reiterate the following point bluntly and loudly.

You are not alone in your crazy. You think you are, but you aren’t.

I can hear you telling me that I am wrong–that you, in fact, are the one soul on Earth that no one else could possibly understand because only you know your own personal trauma.

Well, yes and no.

Yes, you may be the only one who knows everything that’s happened to you. No, that doesn’t mean you’re alone.

We all have crazy–every single one of us–but most of us end up feeling isolated because we don’t want to share it or burden others, or we think that no one will understand.

My personal crazy (in my completely subjective, not at all professional opinion) is likely rooted in a lot of warped body image issues, stemming from whatever underlying, deep-seated insecurity, self-hate, depression, or anxiety I’m repressing. I’m also a ruminator, which is pretty much a  four-syllable word for over-thinker. (It would also be a terrible superhero name, but I suppose “The Ruminator” could be a mildly decent super villain.) Actually, rumination tends to involve over-thinking, plus endless dissection of some choice or event, plus obsessive reflection, plus lots of time and optional quantities of junk food.

Have I mentioned emotional eating yet? That’s definitely part of my crazy.

I may not know what your crazy is, but I’m betting it’s taken you to some pretty dark places. Mine has. The following are all things about my crazy that I’ve considered putting on this blog dozens of times, but I always stop because I tell myself that they are too serious. The truth is that I’m absolutely terrified to put these things out into the world. But after the last couple of days, I’ve been forced to acknowledge what a dark place isolation will take you. At the very least, I want people to know that they aren’t the only ones in those cold, muddy trenches.

I suppose the good news is that this is the Internet and no one will probably read this, right?

1.) I remember the first time I realized I was fat.
I was in elementary school. My best friend was at my house, and we started spraying each other with water because that’s what kids do sometimes. Her pants got soaked, so I offered her a pair of mine while hers dried. As she pulled them on, it became clear that they were several sizes too large for her, which she thought hilarious. She laughed and laughed and laughed as she pulled them on and off without undoing the button. I tried to laugh along but was mostly holding my breath and trying not to cry from embarrassment. (Side note: I feel absolutely no ill will toward this person. We remained good friends for a long time. I just remember this as the first time I felt ashamed of how I looked.)

2.) I used to spend a lot of time utterly convinced that my friends hated me because of the way I looked. 
When you’re a teenage girl (or, really, a female human at all), you are required at some point to believe that you are fat and to proclaim it to everyone else so that they know that you know what your physical flaws are. Even my thinnest, most athletic friends would have something negative to say about their bodies. One curled herself into the fetal position while proclaiming, “Look at all my fat rolls! I’m disgusting!” Then, I, a legitimate overweight kid, would look in the mirror. I figured if my friends thought they were fat, then they must have thought I was a whale.

3.) Growing up, I was constantly trying to shrink my stomach.
It really wasn’t that difficult. You would just skip a couple of meals every now and then (maybe one or two a day), your stomach would shrivel up because it wasn’t being filled, and then you couldn’t overeat because your stomach wouldn’t be able to hold too much food. It was obviously a flawless plan to a teenager’s mind, and there were two victories to this system: feeling full without having eaten everything on your lunch plate and the strong belief that you weren’t anorexic because you were technically eating (even though you were still starving yourself). If you did it enough, you would probably even stop feeling hungry–which was the obvious goal. Of course, then you would binge, curse yourself (and worse) for stretching your stomach, and start the whole thing over again.

4.) At seventeen, I tried to buy diet pills.
The cashier wouldn’t sell them to me because I wasn’t eighteen.

5.) I thought I was prepared to be a martyr for my “cause.”
This is probably the darkest thing I can remember. I distinctly recall writing “I will lose weight or die trying” in my journal as an adolescent. I honestly couldn’t tell you whether I truly meant it, but to me, that isn’t necessarily the important part of what happened when I wrote that. I remember feeling a twisted sense of victory at the sentiment. I felt like putting that sentiment into words on a page meant I was truly committed.

I may not know what your crazy is, but I do know that the worst things you can feel are alone and ashamed. No one should ever feel that. Even if you aren’t ready to talk about it, just know that you are not, despite what your head or anyone else may be telling you, alone.

If you do need to talk to someone, please, for the sake of your mental health, do so.

Mile 2586: How to Avoid Holiday Overeating

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“Fahoo fores dahoo dores”
–“Welcome Christmas,” Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Miles Since Last Time: 166
Total Miles: 2586

Over the next few weeks, a lot of people will try to tell you the secret to having fitness willpower over the holidays. Know this: these people are dirty, stinking liars who do not deserve your attention.

For only I, Mistress of Overeating, have the secret to staying strong during November and December. And because I’m a Ravenclaw, I want to share this knowledge.

Here it is.

The next time you find yourself at a holiday function with an overpacked buffet table, you walk up to that smorgasbord–the three different kinds of potatoes, the roast beast, the neighborhoods of gingerbread houses, the fudge, the peanut brittle, the almond butter cookies, the absolute culinary wonderment–just walk right up to all of it, take a deep breath, and say…

I SURRENDER BEFORE YOUR SAVORY MIGHT.

Because here’s the real secret to avoiding holiday overeating: you can’t. It’s impossible.

You can’t even escape the sheer amount of food. How can anyone be expected to resist it’s deliciousness?

The only choice is to accept that you are a flawed mortal with the inexplicable need to cram impossible amounts of carbs and sugar into your face during the last two months of the year. Just accept your inevitable food pregnancy and prostrate yourself before the altar of gluttony.

The only hope to keep yourself out of a full-on good coma is to maintain an exercise regiment. Other than that, all bets are pretty much off.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be stretching…my stomach.

Mile 2420: Sometimes You Have to Hold Up Your Own Pants

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“Shed this skin I’ve been tripping in
Never to quite return.”
–John Mayer, “Bigger Than My Body”

Miles Last Week: 58
Total Miles: 2420

I made myself a bargain a few weeks ago. I’m not allowed to buy any new clothes until I hit the next big weight loss milestone.

I’m certainly not someone who goes shopping all the time–my philosophy thus far has just been to buy new pants when I need them–but I thought putting it off would be a nice reward for myself.

This would not normally be a problem, but I currently don’t have any exercise pants that fit, as I haven’t needed them since last winter. Capris I have–pants, not so much.

Not surprisingly, this decision against shopping for the moment has come to bite me in the gluteal region.

What follows is a very true story.

On Monday, it was seventy degrees outside. On Tuesday, it was thirty. Gotta love Oklahoma. On Wednesday, I decided I needed to wear actual pants to the gym and not capris.

It’s okay! I thought Wednesday afternoon. I have safety pins and an older pair of drawstring-less pants!

I grabbed that safety pin, tried to jab it through the elastic, and bent the pin beyond usability because apparently the pants are part steel or I have Hulk hands. The jury is still out.

I probably should have recognized this as a bad omen. I did not. Instead, I shoved another safety pin through the waistband, made it work, and went on my way.

Since I started running, my workout has pretty much been a few miles on the treadmill and the rest on the elliptical. My slow weaning from the elliptical is going surprisingly decently, other than some knee pain.

Everything was fine last Wednesday…until about the last two minutes on the treadmill.

I felt a pop. Not a bad, I’m-in-excruciating-pain-and-my-legs-aren’t-working-anymore pop, but an oh-no-I-might-lose-my-pants pop.

That poor safety spin. I imagine that it held on for as long as it could, it’s poor little imaginary hands clasped together as tightly as possible. I assume that I couldn’t hear its pleas of “I’ll never let go!” because I had my headphones in. I couldn’t recognize that it was about to give up. For that, I blame myself.

I may need a min–eh, I’m fine.

I managed to catch the pin before it fell onto the treadmill’s belt and possibly shot across the room. And, friends, I was so dedicated to finishing my jogging miles that I did not immediately run to the bathroom to fix it. I adapted and tried to play it off like “Oh, yeah, I’m walking with my hands on my hips because people do that sometimes even when they aren’t holding up their own pants. Nothin’ to see here.”

When my three treadmill miles were done, I quickly, but not suspiciously, walked to the bathroom with my safety pin and firmly reaffixed my pants.

You know, now that I think about it, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I should just be glad I didn’t accidentally stab my alleged Hulk hands. This bargain is already biting me enough as it is.

Mile 2362: NaNoWorkMo

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“We are strong.
No one can tell us we’re wrong.”
–Pat Benatar, “Love is a Battlefield”

Miles Last Week: 58
Total Miles: 2362

If you know what NaNoWriMo is, you probably follow a writing-centered Twitter account.

If you don’t, I will tell you that it is a buzzy abbreviation that stands for “National Novel Writing Month.” November is the month that a lot of writers decide to crank out a fifty-thousand-word novel in just thirty days while dudes are growing mustaches.

If that sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. (The writing part, not the mustache part. Of course, I have no idea what goes in to growing a mustache, so I may be totally wrong about that.)

A few fellow writers at work have decided to undertake the NaNoWriMo challenge, and I am, too…sort of…only insomuch as I’ll be writing fifty thousand words and working on my novel.

My plan for this month is to use this time to really figure out how to fix the novel I started while still in college, work through them, and go about starting to make those changes. (And then completely finishing it and all that jazz. Some of that will probably have to happen after November 30, though.)

Basically, fifty thousand words worth of work will be happening, but my novel probably won’t be fifty thousand words longer. It’s confusing, but it makes sense to me, and that’s all that matters, right?

 

Since my novel work has pretty much been in limbo since I graduated from college almost two years ago, I’m using NaNoWriMo to give me the kick in the pants that I need to get back on track. This may or may not be considered cheating at actual NaNoWriMo, so I sometimes tend to think of it as NaNoWorkMo–which really should be every month, I suppose–but sometimes you have to make up your own rules that don’t really apply to anyone else and no one else cares about, anyway.

My two big goals for NaNoWork(Wri)Mo are:

1.) Crank out a significant number of words every day.

One of my goals for this year was to write every day. It hasn’t been happening so much. Better late than never, right? That’s sort of how a lot of things in my life have gone.

Fifty thousand words in a month averages to 1,667 per day, which is approximately seven pages. Yes, that does seem like a lot. Quite frankly, so does nine miles of jogging/elliptical-ing a day, but I’ve managed to make that part of my routine.

2.) Stop overthinking and just do it.

May I speak frankly? Sometimes the pressure of trying to write something worth reading gives me so much anxiety that it gets in the way of my productivity. However, I also can’t not try to write. It’s frustrating, and I’m not proud of the nerves, but that’s the situation.

Part of the unofficial point of NaNoWriMo’s high word count is that you don’t really have time to think about it. You just do it with the full understanding that some of it isn’t going to be so great. You get the story out and fix it later. It’s what you have to do.

That’s what I have to train myself to do.

And after nine days of NaNoWorkMo, I think I’ve discovered something–the big bad secret of NaNoWriMo.

Fifty thousand words in a month is surprisingly not as impossible as you think.

You’d be amazed at how many words you can crank out during your lunch hour or in the half hour before going to bed. It’s completely doable when you take it a little at a time and don’t freak out about the big picture.

Honestly, before starting the Mile Project, I would probably doubt my ability to train myself to do anything. Now, though, I know that working every day–especially when you stumble sometimes–is way more important than doing everything absolutely correctly all the time.

Wait. I think I’ve had some professors who tried to teach me that. It sounds vaguely familiar. Hmm. Weird.

Gosh. It’s almost like exercising has had a ripple effect in the rest of my life and my self-discipline. What the heck, man?

Mile 2304: I Think My Gym Has a Room of Requirement

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“’Cause 99 miles per hour, baby,
Is how fast that I like to go.”
–Fitz & the Tantrums, “The Walker”

Miles Last Week: 54
Total Miles 2304

Not too long ago, a doorway appeared in the gym. A neon yellow paper sign was taped to the white plastic tarp that covered the opening. I never ventured over to read this sign because it was across the room and there were usually other people between it and myself. I tend not to socialize much during exercise time.

More recently, the neon yellow paper sign and the white tarp were taken down and people would occasionally walk in and out of this new, mysterious doorway. I still didn’t walk over to see what the doorway led to–because, you know, the risk of exercise time social interaction.

Last week, I started running (mostly pretty slowly and in intervals) on the treadmill. And can I just say–running on treadmills sucks. Of course, running in general is not my favorite, but the treadmill adds a little bit of extra suck.

Part of that may be residual fear of breaking a treadmill (which hasn’t happened yet), but there is also an element of not liking to have my speed dictated by a machine. Surely that’s the first step toward accepting robot overlords, and I’m just not ready for that. With the time change, though, trying to run outside in the evenings after work is kind of out of the question.

If only there were some place inside and not on a treadmill where I could do some interval-ed jogging for a little while every day.

Which brings me back to the new, mysterious, no-longer-tarped doorway.

I poked my head in yesterday and discovered this:

"Because it is a room that a person can only enter when they have real need of it. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the seeker's needs." --Dobby (a free elf)

“Because it is a room that a person can only enter when they have real need of it. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the seeker’s needs.”
–Dobby (a free elf)

I may not have walked by three times, thinking about what I needed, but this isn’t Hogwarts and this Room of Requirement may work differently. I definitely feel like my brainpower might have helped this happen anyway. It may not be an indoor track, but it is a large room with a random piece of AstroTurf in the middle–sort of decent for some light jogging in one- to two-minute intervals.

AKA "The Come and Go Room" or "The Room of Hidden Things"

AKA “The Come and Go Room” or “The Room of Hidden Things”

And that’s what I did for the past two mornings this weekend. I see only two downsides to this system:

  1. I can’t really definitively figure out the specific distance or calories burned (which our future robot exercise overlords very conveniently tell you on digital displays). I just sort of guessed based on how far I would get in the same amount of time on the treadmill.
  2. During the week, there are evening classes in the room (which is likely what it is required FOR), so I’ll probably only be able to do it on the weekends. Oh, well. I suppose I can tolerate the treadmill sometimes.

I probably couldn’t magic up a full track because I am no Hermione. Sigh…

It doesn’t matter. I still consider the materialization of this room to be definitive proof that I am not a Muggle.

Also, if we want to start Dumbledore’s Army, I totally know where we can meet.

Mile 2250: A Running Experiment

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“I’m not running. I’m not running.
I’m not running. No, I’m not running.”
–30 Seconds to Mars, “The Race”

Miles Last Week: 62
Total Miles: 2250

I did it. I caved. I ran. I ran not so far away.

But before I can adequately describe the experience, let me first explain my personal three-part aversion to running.

  • Good old-fashioned childhood torture. It is not an exaggeration to say that I was, without fail, always the slowest kid in my P.E. class in middle school. Every time. Whenever our coach would say something like “Okay, we’re gonna run back and forth until you can all do it in thirty seconds,” I would seriously consider pretending to throw up in the bathroom to get out of it because I knew that everyone else was going to pay for my slowness. Who wants to revisit that?
  • A very real fear of breaking a treadmill. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Come on, Amanda. Treadmills are made to withstand much larger people than you. Well, I didn’t say this was a rational fear. I just feel that if a treadmill is going to break, it is going to be while I am on it. My fragile psyche would probably not survive that scenario.
  • Another very real fear of wearing myself out running outside and not being able to get back to my car or wherever. Again, I know what you’re thinking. Just go in a circle. But what if I lose all of my energy at the point farthest from the starting point? WHAT ABOUT THEN?

Okay, now that you understand my deep-seated anxiety, you’re probably wondering what in the world could have convinced me to give running another try. Well…

Maybe I’m just afraid of hitting a plateau. Or my friend told me a lot of things I should already know about stepping it up. Or I finally accepted that running is the inevitable next step, despite my (very well-justified) aversion. Or maybe I just wanted to know if I could do it.

I don’t totally know why, but Saturday morning, I found myself jogging for two-minute intervals on a very small mile-and-a-half route I mapped out. Here are the results:

  • I didn’t die. OKAY FINE. I admit it. Jogging didn’t kill me.
  • R.I.P. R. Killy.

    R.I.P., R. Killy.

    Not everyone is so lucky. About three-quarters of the way through, I found a poor, dead snake that I have since named R. Killy (the “R” stands for “Road,” obviously). It’s probably good that I didn’t see him until I was in the home stretch. Dead bodies are not a good sign.

  • Low impact is WAY different from high impact. The elliptical may have spoiled me. I’m pretty sure I jostled my spleen. And I think I sprained an apparently unstretchable muscle in my calf.
  • I’m embarrassingly sore. Seriously. I went to visit some family this weekend, and I don’t know who had more trouble getting out of a chair–me or my eight-months-pregnant cousin.

So, running nearly killed my muscles, but it didn’t kill me (which was another very real concern no matter what anyone tells me)–that’s the sign of a good workout, right? I guess I should keep doing it or something. I guess, or whatever.

She said begrudgingly.

Mile 2188: The Siren Call of Halloween Candy

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“From the cradle bars
Comes a beckoning voice.
It sends you spinning.
You have no choice.”
–Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Spellbound”

Miles Last Week: 66
Total Miles: 2188

Oh, October. When the seasonal treats start popping up and stores start to stack boxes upon boxes of giant bags of various candy in themed packaging related to whatever holiday is closest.

And late one October afternoon, you decide to go to one of these stores to pick up some frozen egg rolls. You’ve been craving them and getting the frozen kind seems cheaper, though they end up not being as good as you would have hoped–but you won’t know that until later.

Unlucky for you, one of these stacked displays of assorted chocolate is between you and the register. As you approach, subpar frozen egg rolls in hand, you see that this stack has the good bags–with Reese’s cups AND Kit Kats AND Whoppers. The only way they could be better would be if they also had Almond Joys.

Without even bothering to slow down or give it a second thought, you grab one of the bags–probably because you know that second thought would point out what a terrible idea that purchase is. As you check out, you’re already telling yourself that it’ll be okay. You’ll just have one piece a day. Totally not a big deal.

But it never is just one piece, is it? Over the next week, one piece is more like one handful and you pay for your sins with a not-so-good weigh-in.

Brothers and sisters in the fight for better health, we must steel ourselves against this threat to our cause. We must band together to resist the devil’s food before that terrible and inevitable day when we wake from a chocolate-induced fugue on a bed of empty Hershey’s wrappers wondering where our lives went wrong.

It’s not too late my friends. It is not too late to leave the path leading to a witch who will stuff you with sweets and stick you in a stew. It’s not to late to walk into the sun and let the chocolate melt away behind you. There is glory to be found…

…just as soon as the rest of this bag of chocolate is gone.

***Said in my best preacher voice.