A little over a month ago, I ran a half-marathon. I didn’t run it very fast, but I also completed the 21K without getting injured for the first time ever. It still took me almost a week to recover. I felt like craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap. When you train for an event, you eat one of two ways: the way “they” tell you to eat, balanced and with enough carbs and protein to fuel your training and recovery, or the way the mentally unhealthy part of your brain tells you to eat. You know, the part that tells you that “you run enough these days that you can just eat whatever you want.” I don’t want to turn into one of those people that food-preaches at everyone, so all I’m going to say about that is that it really, really, really did not end well for me.
So… I decided to do this thing. A 30-day clean eating challenge, from October 1st to October 30th. I literally followed a For Dummies guide, because while I’ve lost tons of weight in the past by counting calories, I never actually bothered to worry about things like, you know, nutrients. I did it so I could stop feeling like crap and so that I could retrain myself to eat properly for good because I need to lose, like, a LOT of weight, especially since I have my heart set on finishing a full marathon next year. You know when you’re a kid and you learn about anytime foods and sometimes foods? That’s what this was.
Some notes from my challenge:
- Here is a secret about eating clean: it is not hard. It is impractical and inconvenient, but it is not hard.
- There’s so much time involved, and I’m a busy-always-overwhelmed-help kind of person to begin with, so this took some getting used to. I had to force myself to set aside time because there’s just so much more grocery shopping, prepping, cooking, and dishes to do.
- Oh my God all the dishes.
- Dishes are my least favourite chore.
- Down with dishes.
- A thing that made my life easier: it eliminated a lot of decision-making, since I didn’t even bother going into the packaged food aisles in the grocery store and mostly limited myself to stuff I can cook with.
- I prepped all my meals in advance, so I ended up spending less than half the money on groceries and food court lunches and stuff. Seriously.
- I loved that my stomach was happy for the whole month. No heartburn, no indigestion, no pain, no complaints. On day 31, we had a halloween potluck at work. I ate okay, calorie-wise, but there was a ton of prepackaged “outside” food. I felt like crap again for the whole day.
- I would say the best thing about it was the elimination of all the sodium and sugar from my diet. I just had so much more energy all the time.
- I sound like a commercial.
- The worst thing about it was… chicken. I hate chicken. I hate handling it, cooking it, eating it, being around it. *unless it’s breaded and deep-fried* I tried for the first week, because it’s a calorie-friendly budget-friendly source of protein, but since then I can’t even think about chicken or any poultry without feeling nauseated. That smell…
- A weird thing that happened is for some reason I’m more sensitive to smells now.
- Everyone told me to eat brown rice.
- They all forgot to tell me it tastes terrible.
- I didn’t miss alcohol. Really.
- I’m the kind of person who eats squash and actually enjoys it now.
- I love my friends and family so much. So supportive, sending me recipes and giving me tips and encouraging me and checking in.
- Email me if you want any of my recipes.
- The plan from now on is to keep eating clean and working out, with one cheat meal a week if necessary.
- The scale says I lost 11 pounds.
- The mirror says I don’t really look different, except maybe a little around the middle.
- My clothes say my waist has shrunk a lot.
- My eyes say my feet are shrinking. I’m not joking.
- My brain says…
- Oh look, we’ve arrived at the hard part.
The actual eating clean part is not hard. You get used to it, and make it your life. But the mental part of this, or any weight loss process, is a living nightmare. I feel like a hypocrite most of the time. I don’t practice what I preach. I talk about body acceptance and self acceptance all the while believing (and I don’t know how to stop) that I will never deserve love (from myself or other people) unless I weigh below a certain number of pounds. I try to be a feminist (even if I am a bad one) and I am still trying to fit into some stupid patriarchy-perpetuated ideal of what a woman should look like and I am finding it impossible to be okay with myself unless I do. I don’t judge most people by their outward appearance but it seems to be the only standard by which I judge myself. And while the benefit of what I am doing is my body is getting healthier by the day, I feel like I’m letting my mind get sicker at the same time.
One thing that people always tell me is to be kind to myself. Sometimes I get messages from people I haven’t heard from in a while, out of the blue, reminding me to be kind to myself. Which kind of makes me wonder what I must look like to other people if they’re always telling me to do that. Maybe I do beat myself up too much, but I don’t know that it’s any worse than what most people do. And to be quite honest, as of late I’ve done some things that I’m not very proud of and I don’t think I should be allowed to be okay with that just because I’m generally too hard on myself. It’s probably true, however, that in general I DO need to be kinder to myself. Maybe the best way to do that, regardless of my body image (which I still need to work on), regardless of my feelings about this (which I still need to work on), regardless of my life circumstances (which I still need to work on), is to just be healthy. Eat well, sleep well, work out. Train for that marathon.
When you’re doing it for health reasons, it’s a good thing. When you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, it’s a bad thing. What is it when I am doing it for both?
We left Montreal on Thursday before rush hour started, took the right bridge off the island, didn’t wait too long at the US border, made very efficient pit stops, and were beginning to feel good about time, until the New Jersey turnpike ate us. Right at the very end, before the last exit to Philadelphia. I don’t know why the Jersey turnpike hates me but I have literally never been on it without getting emphatically stuck in traffic. So we got to the bar late and missed a lot of people we wanted to see, although we were very happy to see the people that were still there. Hi, very drunk people that were still there! You will not believe how drunk you were.
- We also briefly met Jamie McLennan, who is, like, the greatest human.
- On Friday morning, the lovely Bo took me to a panel discussion that we thought was going to be between Gary Bettman, Paul Holmgren, and Flyers COO Shawn Tilger. We got there, and, hey, we found ourselves sitting LIKE TEN FEET FROM CLAUDE GIROUX. CLAUDE GIROUX. MY CLAUDE GIROUX. It was awesome, except the part where I told the Flyers COO I am not a Flyers fan and Bo had to explain my Flyers feelings. What a Laura thing to do. Anyway, Bo is the sweetest and I’m very grateful for the experience. Also Gary Bettman is way funnier than you’d think.
- I randomly ran into the beautiful Caity Kauffman and Chelsea Clyde on the street. We recognized each other and screamed and hugged like they do on TV as people looked on like we were insane.
- Then I met up with Becca and Amanda and we went to get cheesesteaks. We each got a cheesesteak. None of us could finish a cheesesteak. Seriously they should put a warning on there. “You will not be able to eat more than half of this or your stomach will explode. Share with your friends.”
— Mike McLaren (@MikeMcLaren) June 27, 2014
Also there was an apple dumpling situation at Reading Terminal Market. The situation was you should try one.
- We went on a tour of the city, and holy crap is it gorgeous. The parts they show you, at least. I know Philly has some really sketchy bad areas but there’s so much history and old things and nerdy things and that was pretty much all we saw. I think my favourite part was the Art Museum Steps.
- Then we went to the first round of the draft. Read Down Goes Brown’s story from the draft, because he can write it better than any of the rest of us can. I really like the SUCKS thing, because Flyers fans are assholes who acknowledge that they’re assholes and I kind of love that it’s their thing. The only thing I can add that McIndoe didn’t mention is that one order of Crabfries is the size of a bucket.
- (Berkshire was covering the draft for Habs Eyes On The Prize, and EOTP draft coverage can be found here if you’re interested in actual hockey things.)
- Right as we were leaving Wells Fargo that night, they had fireworks on at the ballpark. One thing about Philly sports venues is that the ballpark, hockey arena, and football stadium are all in one place separated by parking lots and like some fan hangout thingy. When you’re coming from New Jersey and you take the exit towards them at night, it’s the prettiest sight for anyone with sports feelings. Sports feelings.
- We went to a bar called Bar. There were a lot of people there I wanted to say hi to, and I did, too briefly (HI COLLIN), but I missed so, so many people and I’m really sorry about that. Anyway, the bar called Bar had no air conditioning and so we went outside to get some air, and then we decided to scrounge for food, and then we found some degenerate hockey writers and had some drinks with them.
- For the record, I have a lot of intellectual crushes on lots of hockey-writing people and every single one of them that I have ever met (in Philadelphia and elsewhere) has been extremely nice in person.
- Anyway, I got drunk. Not too drunk, but just drunk enough to say dumb things (HI STEVE DANGLE).
The next morning we went to the second round of the draft, after which we went to a baseball game and ate fries out of a hat. Citizens Bank Park is an extremely nice ballpark. It’s not historic and it doesn’t have anything gimmicky like a stingray tank or whatever (seriously, Tampa?) but it is very much geared towards an awesome baseball game experience. Great visibility, clean washrooms, decent food, and a phenomenal view of the city. The Phillies are absolute shit.
- We went out for dinner and then karaoke, but I got claustrophobic in that tiny room and ran away and found more degenerate hockey writers. Again, intellectual crushes who turned out to be lovely people. We all ended up at that bar at the end of the night and at least two people tried to lift me.
- Anyway, I got drunk. Not too drunk, but just drunk enough to say dumb things. For example I met Seth Rorabaugh, a Penguins writer, and said something like “I don’t like Penguins people but I follow you and I like your feed.” What a Laura thing to do. I hope he was too drunk to remember that.
- Sunday morning, Josh and I met up with the beautiful Amy briefly, then picked up Andrew and started to head home. Somewhere in New Jersey, we had a near death experience, but all three of us survived my driving intact, and I feel like we are closer friends because of it. We dropped Josh off in Albany and got home safe eventually. The important part of the drive home is that is on the way home I was learning about Canadian history from Andrew and then we somehow got onto the topic of the Emu War and if you haven’t heard of this you need to read up ASAP. It’s amazing.
- My thanks to everyone who bought me a drink, please know that I owe you two in kind, whenever I next see you.
- To all my friends I got to see for a brief period of time: it wasn’t enough. It never feels like enough, so please come see me so we can spend some more time together.
- Most of all thank you to Andrew, Becca, Josh, and Amanda, for being the greatest road trip buddies ever. I am a very high maintenance germophobe with anxiety issues, so putting up with me for that length of time takes a lot of patience and I love you all so much for it.
This will come a shock to exactly nobody, but I’ve been holding myself back from doing a lot of things because I haven’t felt good about myself. I always figured I would need to get to goal weight before I did any of the things I wanted: change jobs, change cities, wear nice clothes, date, etc. I don’t know why goal weight was so important to get the ball rolling on… well, my life, but I would put down every cent of my almost non-existent savings that most people who have ever battled with weight issues have done or still do the same thing.
I gained a lot of weight this winter, some of it injury weight, and some depression weight. I see you nodding. over there, and am sending hugs your way. I’ve started to lose some of it back already, with running, or sloooooooooowly jogging who am I kidding, watching what I eat, and a Mediterranean vacation (it’s magical, you guys. All the food is good and good for you and I’m not even lactose intolerant in Greece). This time around, I decided not to wait for goal weight to go out there and do things. So I’m having to try to unthink the “I’m fat, so I can’t…” voice in my head. Why does it feel like we don’t deserve good things because we’re overweight?
Probably because one dumb jerk told us so, even though hundreds of people keep telling us the opposite. One dumb jerk said (in front of me, about another girl) that he thought she was pretty but not overall attractive because she is overweight. One dumb jerk told someone I know that losing a few pounds would go a long way towards advancing her career. One dumb jerk (whom I’ve since distanced myself from) told one of my friends that he knew a mutual friend liked him but that he wouldn’t go for her because she’s overweight and he doesn’t find it attractive. Hell, one dumb jerk probably told someone something like that about me recently. We’ve heard it all our lives. “She’d be so pretty if she just lose some weight.” “She’d be getting all the guys banging on her door if she would just lose some weight.” And I have some questions about this:
If she’d just lose some weight, would she become smarter?
If she’d just lose some weight, would she become more interesting?
If she’d just lose some weight, would she become funnier?
If she’d just lose some weight, would she become kinder?
If she’d just lose some weight, would she become more compassionate?
If she’d just lose some weight, would she become more generous?
If she’d just lose some weight, would she become braver?
If she’d just lose some weight, would she become more educated?
If she’d just lose some weight, would she become more capable at her job?
If she’d just lose some weight, would she suddenly have new professional skills?
If she’d just lose some weight, would anything about her change other than her weight?
No. It wouldn’t.
All of this goes for men, too, by the way. This is a common female experience, but not unique to women. I’ve talked about this with a bunch of guys, too.
Has anyone ever made you feel this way? Let’s do a new thing, together, then. Maybe instead of leaving it up to a shallow jerk to decide whether you’re desirable or not based on the number on the scale, you turn the tables and decide who’s undesirable yourself. If someone is shallow enough to let a few extra pounds hide all of the good things about you, all of the things that actually matter about you, then maybe they’re undesirable, unattractive, and ugly. Maybe they’ve been the undesirable one all along, and just made you feel that way because they don’t want to look themselves in the mirror and face their own awfulness.
And you have no time for awful people in your life.
— Nationwide Arena (@NationwideArena) April 13, 2014
Hey, this blog still exists! Here is your annual playoff bandwagon guide, for people whose teams did not make the playoffs or for people whose teams will be ousted in the first round (me). This year, it was super weird not to have to pretend to be nice about the Canucks. Also, once again, I didn’t pay attention to the New York Rangers at all this season, so they’ll probably end up winning the cup.
- Boston Bruins: Are you Joffrey Baratheon? If you can read this, then you are not Joffrey Baratheon, so keep going and pick another team.
- Anaheim Ducks: For Teemu, for Saku, for PDOu.
- Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly. Do these guys have any defensemen? Also, Patrick Roy playoff tantrums could be a thing.
- St. Louis Blues: I know I use the ‘David Backes rescues puppies’ thing every year, but it’s kind of all I got. They have Maxim Lapierre, Steve Ott, and Barrett Jackman, so, um… David Backes rescues puppies, Go Blues!
- San Jose Sharks: Their fans are super smart, really funny, and really friendly. They’re a really, really good team. Joe Thornton beating the Bruins for a cup would be a really dumb narrative some of the media won’t stop talking about, but Jumbo Joe with a cup at all is a story you can get behind. If Patrick Marleau wins the cup, Jeremy Roenick will probably turn purple on live television. Most importantly, fun must be always :-))
- Pittsburgh Penguins: I… just can’t get excited about this team. I try, and I try, and I try, and… meh. But you know, objectively speaking, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play pretty hockey and Olli Maatta is kind of the best, so, you know, go Pens. Or something. Meh.
- Chicago Blackhawks: They beat the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup last year, and the good will from that carries over for at least a year, maybe even two. Let’s talk about our Jonathan Toews feelings.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: Stamkos. Stamkos Stamkos Stamkos Stamos. Stamkos. You can cheer for them if you hate Montreal, and then after that you can cheer for them if you hate Detroit or Boston, so if you are a Leafs fan, this is the team for you. Jon Cooper is a great coach, and this team is better than we gave them credit for at the beginning of the year. Also Stamkos.
- Montreal Canadiens: Here are three seasons to cheer for Montreal. A) you hate the Habs, and you want to see them win at least a series so they will extend their terrible coach and re-sign their roster holes. B) You hate stats, and you want Montreal to win so you can tell us all we were wrong. Dick move, bro. C) You hate the Habs, but you love a Canadiens fan and want to see them watch their team hoist the cup.
- Los Angeles Kings: Because they are going to win the Stanley Cup.
- Minnesota Wild: look I can’t advocate this, but go ahead if you’re so inclined, I won’t judge.
- New York Rangers: Dominic Moore.
- Philadelphia Flyers: You can’t cheer for the Flyers because you hate them and everything about them and you hate their stupid history of being bullies and you hate the cheap dirty teams circa 2007 and you still hate them now and you hate their fans and man you really hate Philadelphia but wait you’re kind of really into that go Flyers.
- Columbus Blue Jackets: If you don’t love everything about the World Famous Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey Club, then you are a bad person and you should feel bad. I get the feels thinking about these guys getting their first ever playoff win in franchise history. If they actually win a series (won’t happen), I will ugly cry. Ugly cry with me.
- Detroit Red Wings: It would be really great to watch them emerge from the nuclear wasteland of broken groins and beat Boston. Also, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, and Mike Babcock.
- Dallas Stars: Because they are a genuinely decent team that’s fast and fun and also they have giant ad blimps in the arena that suddenly casually float by behind TV people’s heads during the intermission broadcast, which is never not funny.
I don’t know if I’m the only one with this problem.
I get really, really uncomfortable when people around me fixate on food. Not their own food, my food. The food I am eating, the food I do not want to eat, food I could be eating, food I am thinking about eating.
“What are you eating?”
“That looks good.”
“Something smells good.”
“How did you make that?”
“Did you buy that?”
“What are you having for lunch today?”
“Laura’s lunch looks good today.”
Every. Day. From someone I have no choice but to see every day. And who also does a lot of other inconsiderate things, but that’s another story. It’s not just me. Everyone’s snacks or lunch are up for scrutiny and endless discussion. Is it not rude to crane your neck to look over at the person sitting next to you eating almonds or jelly beans or whatever and simply ask, “what is it?” as if what you or anyone else eats is for everyone to know all the time? I don’t know. My mama taught me better than to stick my nose in other people’s business and snacks, but maybe things are different where we’re from? That or I’m pretty sure it’s just rude.
All of this would be annoying enough for a regular person, but when you have food issues, it’s an absolute nightmare.
Today this person went from just talking to making a judgmental comment. That I claim to count calories and yet she always sees me eating something. I said nothing, because I don’t want to into trouble or whatever, but I am still livid about it, hours later.
I’ve written about my food issues here before. Anyone who has read this blog or spoken to me about this stuff knows my deal. The thing with the weight is that it’s sometimes a defense mechanism and sometimes it’s just a way to treat yourself badly because you think that’s what you deserve, for reasons that you are working on and that aren’t really things you ever want to share. And food is not like alcohol, or cigarettes, or drugs, or whatever else your self-hate manifests itself in. Food is not something you can quit, so your only choice, really, is to improve your relationship with it.
Which is a daily struggle. I would say I have a healthy relationship with food maybe 50 per cent of the time, which is better than zero per cent of the time where it used to be, but it’s something I have to work hard at every single day. Food and I are working things out.
But it’s nobody’s business but mine, and people talking about it and judging my choices brings all of the food shame back and sets me back. Just like you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t, but I wouldn’t put it past this person), comment on someone’s relationship struggles with a spouse or family member, you really shouldn’t talk about someone’s relationship struggles with food or their body.
I had so many horrible things I wanted to say, but in the interest of not being a shitty person and also not being a shitty coworker, I went out on break and did that rage tears thing instead. What I really should have done was what my friend Vinny suggested and smugly asked her how many half marathons she has run.
tl;dnr WHAT ANYONE ELSE IS EATING IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS UNLESS THEY STOLE IT FROM YOUR PLATE
So one of my resolutions for 2013 was a thing I called the self-acceptance project.
I had been unhappy with myself for as long as I could remember. I’ve always thought that had to do with my looks. The plan was to write in a journal, and do things that scared me, and all kinds of inspirational things, and try to like what I look like more.
I haven’t really made peace with my looks or my body, mind you, but I think that’s going to happen soon enough anyway, because the self-acceptance project turned out to be about something else entirely. It turned out to be about what I should have set out to do in the first place.
I have had a very good year. It hasn’t been perfect – the more I like myself, the more I hate my job and the more it makes me miserable, and the last few weeks have been very stressful on my family, but in general, 2013 has been my best year.
Because I have been happy. I had never truly been happy before. Happy moments, for sure, but I had never been really, truly, unquestionably happy. I know that sounds sad, but I promise you it isn’t. There are tons of people who go through their entire lives without ever being happy. I only went until age 30.
So this is a thing I have learned to tell myself this year:
You will always, always, always, without exception, fail to meet other people’s expectations. And it doesn’t matter. Other people’s expectations are usually unreasonable and about them, not you. And just because someone loves you, it doesn’t give them the right to impose unreasonable expectations on you, and you shouldn’t care about failing to meet their expectations for you, and if they make you feel even a tiny little bit bad about it, they don’t love you as much as they claim to. If they want to feel bad about it, that’s up to them, but you are under no obligation to feel bad.
The only person whose expectations you are obligated to meet (and surpass) are your own. Turn out however you want. As long as you work hard and you’re kind, you are a successful person, and don’t let anyone else tell you any different. I’ve said this before on this blog (I borrowed it from a Conan commencement speech, at Dartmouth I think) but I believe it: if you work hard and you are kind, amazing things will happen. Nobody is going to dump a bunch of money in your lap or rescue you from your shitty job, don’t get me wrong, but you know. Just be a non-shitty, non-entitled, non-deadbeat human, and you’ll be happy, no matter what other people think you should do.
So that’s a thing I have been telling myself. You don’t have to borrow it, but you can if you want.
It’s worked for me. I like myself a whole lot more than I did a year ago. In that I actually like who I am, finally. And I think the making peace with your looks thing follows from that, right?
One more thing since I am being all cheesy and ridiculous: I am incredibly thankful to have my family and friends in my life. I am surrounded by amazing people and I love you all.
I have two resolutions for 2014: To write more (about whatever I want), and to find an awesome job. Maybe the two will be related.
Happy New Year, everybody! Don’t drink and drive. Ever.
I had this idea for a trip I wanted to do last year, in the fall. I was going to drive to Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington DC and see friends and hockey games in each city. Then the lockout happened, and I ended up flying to DC and just hanging out with awesome people instead.
I was determined to do it this year to make up for it, but my budget both in terms of time and in terms of money forced me to postpone the New York/New Jersey part for a bit, although I still want to go see my friends there because it’s been too long.
Anyway. The plan turned into Boston, Philadelphia, DC, home for a week, Detroit, back home, and a collapse from exhaustion.
Two cool things I didn’t know when I first started planning this trip: that there was a BAA half-marathon the weekend I would be in Boston, and that instead of being a basement team as had been predicted, the Red Sox would be playing in the ALCS. I was just going to come for a hockey game, but it turned into so much more.
First, the half:
This is one of the more stupid things I have done in my life. My right knee has been bothering me ever since I danced all night on it at an amazing wedding a few weeks ago. It had been getting better to the point where I was running on it, but given that I was in the taper phase of my training, I hadn’t been running as much. Anyway. It took me almost ten hours to get from Montreal to Boston Friday night because of holiday traffic, and my knee was sore again on Saturday. But when I woke up the day of the half marathon, I felt fine, even though I probably hadn’t slept enough. I figured I could totally handle it.
Well… Uhhhh… No, I couldn’t. I was in pain by the fourth mile. I nearly quit four times. I wanted so badly to drop out of the race I cried. And then I cried because I didn’t want to be a quitter. I was so mad at myself and I felt like I was failing. It was dumb. I probably shouldn’t have tried to finish, but I did finish, thanks to a wonderful person I met on the course named Erica and the EMS folks who wouldn’t leave us. Honestly, I would say that a major chunk of the run felt awful but the finish line when you’re last is an amazing experience. I would have never planned to be there but now that I have been there I feel like I should tell everyone to finish last at least once in their lives.
And also, I have to say: the course was beautiful and I would highly recommend it, but also, the BAA, the volunteers, the medical staff, the police and the city of Boston were just amazing. I’m so grateful to have experienced a race in Boston.
And I have now finished two out of two half-marathons that I have attempted.
Now let’s talk about our Red Sox feelings:
Yeah so ALCS Game 2. A playoff game at Fenway. Which sounds pretty cool on its own, but then you add in what happened at the game and it was the best baseball game I have ever been to and one of the best sports experiences I have ever had.
You can’t really compare a baseball playoff game atmosphere to a hockey playoff game atmosphere because they are both incredible, just in different ways. But loud is the same in every sport. I still can’t believe I was there for that.
And finally, the hockey game:
Detroit beat Boston, which used to be a good thing, but now that they’re in the Flortheast division, it’s not so satisfying to watch anymore. But as much as I hate the Bruins, I love, love, LOVE games at TD Garden. The game staff do such a great job with music and amping up the crowd and it’s always a good time. I’ve been to two matinee games in a row where the Bruins have lost and the crowd was amazing anyway. So, yeah, hate the Bruins, but go to a game here.
So this is long enough already and I have to sleep. Philadelphia is next. It’s going to be really hard to beat Boston though. Thank you so much, Boston friends. I had an amazing time in your city. I love you all.