Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rainbow-Ass Salads and God's Glorious Shirtless-ness

When I got back to California, I made the commitment to really try hard to be healthy and stuff. You know? Healthy and stuff? Yea, I know, I have the same thoughts. Healthy and stuff...Whatever the hell that means.

Even though the idea of being healthy seems like some abstract deity sitting up in the clouds looking down upon all of us mortals and laughing it's butt off, I did want to be more conscious about my daily choices and habits. I couldn't continue the goldfish gouging or peanut butter and jelly joyrides anymore. My goal has been to tone up a lot more so I could be all muscle-y and stronger and less jiggly and stuff. Not to lose weight, just be firm and have cool lines when I flex. Like an internet picture! So I set out to track what I was eating and keep my net calories under a certain amount every day and to exercise lots and lots. Since I am back to being unemployed and yet busier than ever before, I couldn't sign up for a million classes like I did over the summer, so I resolved to start running again.

I had gone on a running hiatus over the summer because I was lazy and it was just too damn hot. I tend to get heat blisters from the ridiculous way I perspire when I run in really warm weather, and getting up before work when it was still cool out was just too much. I needed every ounce of my energy for the work day, after all. The irony is that it has gotten even hotter than it did all summer in the past few days here in SoCal. Goddammit, irony! But I digress. I had stopped running, and it could go on no longer! For I had signed up for another Mud Run that is coming up in less than a month and needed to get back into running-mode in order to not make a fool out of myself. My team this year has a slightly lower median age and might actually be able to run the course with me, so you know, I kind of need to be able to do it too. 

So running and good-nutritioning it had to be. I am not going to say dieting because that makes it sound like I am on some kind of weird plan for eating or that I am a crazy woman obsessed with being skinny, which isn't true. I am a crazy woman obsessed with being able to attain the strength to beat up anyone who might try to rape me or abduct me or accuse me of having smelly toes or say mean things about my cats. I like to call it good-nutritioning because that makes more sense to what I am trying to do. Eat good, nutritious things, and no more than I need. Not only will it help me achieve my dreams of becoming a super badass fit lady, but it makes my ego purr in that superior, pretentious sort of way. And maybe, just maybe, if I dream hard enough, it will help me live forever. And then I can take over the world and declare a worldwide end to "footsies" playing. The masses will love me. 

Since I have returned to California, I have made notable progress on many fronts involving these two things.  Let's do this the right way and start with the food. It's always best to start with the food. 

First of all, I have been eating lots and lots of salad. It has gotten to the point where my day actually feels kind of weird if I don't eat a salad. Which makes me wonder if I should start digging to see if hell has frozen over. Maybe I should attach wings to my toaster and see if it flies? Ah, who am I kidding? I can't lie to you guys--I don't actually own a toaster.

Look at that rainbow-ass salad. That is what I call a rainbow salad. 

Anyway, though it might seem strange, it is true. No, not the toaster confession, but my salad addiction. My salads have gone through somewhat of an upgrade since my early post about discovering the joy of salad. I have read about how having more colors on your plate means you are being healthier (excluding skittles), so I have been trying this new method of "rainbowing" my salads. Rainbows have kind of been my thing lately. I was all about turning my kids into rainbow colored creatures all summer long. I'm not gay--just weird. And said weirdness has translated to my food. I pile on all the good ol' standbys: spinach, tomatoes, carrots, feta cheese, blueberries... But I have also been including red bell peppers, strawberries, yellow squash, eggplant, and avocado. All have been wonderfully bland additions, just the way I like it. Except for the avocado. Don't tell salad, but I am having even more of a love affair with avocados lately. It's half the reason I want to eat salad. I was always so-so on the avocado fan scale. I don't know why it took me this long to come around to them, but boy have we had a whirlwind romance.

This rainbow method has lead to a whole new world of salad enjoyment, and I am always sure to include some sort of protein on the side, whether it be tofu, a big hunk of chicken, or at least a low-fat mozzarella cheese stick. I want to keep all my muscly muscles in good shape so I can be Superman one day. I am sure Superman ate a lot of low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks.

On top of my salad euphoria I have also been doing healthy-person things like making quinoa and drinking two liters of water every day. I know, right? Quinoa! Who ever thought I would be the kind of person who grew up to eat quinoa. The first time I tried quinoa I thought "oh, what's this? Some kind of rice thing? I like rice. EW WHAT THE HELL IS THIS. THIS IS NOT RICE" and swore never again to eat it. But things have since changed. I am a new person now. Granted, I am not one of those super cool people who eats it cold. I'm still not ready for that. Nevertheless, I am sure one day I'll get there.

I have also been tracking all my foods on a fancy free app on my iPhone, because I am finally one of those people who has an iPhone. I am finally one of those assholes who is always on their phone! It's great. I wouldn't be surprised if I woke up one day to find my skin growing over my phone, only to realize it to be a new attachment of my body. The calorie counting makes me feel a bit neurotic. I cheat most of the time anyway and never count the grapes I always pick at through the day because I can't handle the red numbers of judgement when I go over my allotted calorie amount. They are too intense for me. But I am still doing pretty well. Even if I want to tear my hair out with the anxiety it causes, I am eating healthier and more carefully because of it. 

Ok, now comes the exercise part of this here blog entry. I am pretty excited about this, because not only have I been doing awesome things on the pole, but my running has pretty much only improved since I stopped. Wow. I should quit running for months at a time more often. Not that all the other conditioning I've done in the past three months has made any difference...

First of all, my hill skills are better than ever. There are a ridiculous amount of hills in Southern California. At least in the vicinity of my apartment, anyway, and I basically can't run anywhere without having to run up for at least a little bit. Unless I want to run down the scary, windy road with no sidewalk and crazy Californian drivers. To which I refuse. So upwards it must be. I was happy to find that right away I was able to run all the way up my arch-nemisis hill, the dastardly half mile 10% incline beast that it is. It took me months to conquer the first time, but now I do it several times a week. Because that is just how badass I have become. Take that, asshole hill!

This leads to my other new breakthrough: I have magically become able to run without having to take walk breaks almost 80% of the time. There are still a couple of different hills on certain routes I take that get to me, such the other side of my arch-nemesis hill...which to get to I must approach from the other way around, which takes many miles and the hill itself is even's brutal. Although quite the gluteal workout I must say. But other than that little blip, I have become quite skilled at persevering through the rough parts and keeping my feet moving. So now, none of the cars that whiz by will judge me for being a super sweaty "walker," and think I am lame and weak for being so worn out from simply walking. They will always see me as a super sweaty runner and feel guilty and ashamed for not going out running and instead sitting on their lazy butts in their fancy smancy cars. I feel bad for them.  Really I do. They need engines to get up hills. I get by on just my pure awesomeness.

Also included in my return to running has been improvements to my garb. This is another subject I have written about before, so I am pleased to tell you things have gotten even fancier for me. In the past few weeks, I bought my SECOND sports bra ever. Now I have one sports bra for pole dancing and one for running. That way, when I sweat buckets while running, I won't have to put on the same, still slightly-damp bra the next day when I want to have some pole practice and end up feeling a whole lot less than sexy when writhing around my floor in it and getting little bits of hair and other household grime latched on to my sweaty body. I know that sounds appealing in a weird, fantasy way, but trust me it isn't. Better yet, my new sports bra is reversible, so it seems like I have three bras now. I really am living the fancy life now.

Yes, they're the same your mind blown or what?

I also got entirely fed up with the heat blisters my skin-tight, water resistant 3/4 running pants were giving me. I mean, I love them to death and all, but water resistant not only keeps water out, but water in, and given how much I sweat, it just did not do. The last time I went running in the only shorts I own-- my tiny black compression shorts usually used for pole practice-- at least two cars honked at me and my crotch biscuits were rubbing all up on each other like two preteen virgins who were just making it to second base for the first time ever. This, also, just did not do. So I bought the most majestic pair of running shorts I could find on the Target clearance rack a few weeks ago. They are bright magenta and  made of that swishy material that all the legit cross country runners have. Mine are not quite that short, although they still ride up in between my thighs a whole lot, and I have to become that mean, cock-blocking parent who tells my teenage crotch biscuits to restrain themselves until marriage. Or at least college. Sheesh. Kids these days. One day, they'll hopefully grow up. Or rather, shrink, and my thighs won't be as wiggly and maybe they won't try to rub all over each other in public as much. Until then, I just have to deal with it. Fortunately my majestic magenta pants make it worth it, because they are just so darn breezy, they don't show my underwear line, and they even have a tiny little pocket for my house key. Also they only cost me $5 and their color is so obnoxious that they make me look way more legit. 

Finally, speaking of sports bras and looking like a legit runner, I hit a new milestone the other day. For the first time ever, I ran shirtless. I had never really felt the desire to run in nothing but a sports bra, even though I had seen numerous people do it all the time. Shirts always just seemed second nature to me. I had nothing to show off. Me and shirts were friends. But the other day I was running a particularly difficult route while wearing a pretty baggy shirt that weighed nearly a pound and was practically falling off of me after the third mile and the third pint of sweat I had no doubt lost. I hadn't seen anyone else out that morning, and it was cloudy anyway so I didn't have to worry about serious sun to skin damage. So when I reached the top of the hill, I stopped for a moment and cautiously removed my garment. The gloriousness was immediate. Right away I could feel a cool breeze rippling all along my torso and everything felt a million times better. It was like God had smiled down on my sweaty, pale white and slightly flabby stomach, with approving eyes of my sparkly belly button pendant, and he could see straight through my wobbly stomach to the manly abdominals beneath, and he granted me a reward for all the hard work I have put into running and my abs, even if you can't actually see them. (Yet). Why it had taken me so long to run shirtless, I have no idea. Of course, almost right away I passed my first fellow runner of the morning, but he also didn't have a shirt on, so I felt like it was acceptable. There was no judgement between us. And better yet, no one on the road on the way home honked at me. Mission accomplished! I have yet to go running shirtless again, but I am quite sure it will happen once again some day. Especially if California keeps up this heat wave business. 

So, that, my friends, is my life these days. Oh, and also ridiculous fucking amounts of homework that even I, the notoriously good at keeping up IB straight A student overachiever kid I used to be, am struggling with. Life is a bitch. So this blog may be kind of quiet for awhile, but I shall persevere, just like those hills I *must* run up to feel awesome about myself.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Little Badass That Could

Lately, I feel like I have been losing grip on my badass touch. I mean, granted things have been up and down, as you have had the rare fortune of observing so on this here blog itself. But mostly things have been down, especially since I have returned back to California and re-realized just how few friends I actually have here, which in case you are curious, is approximately 3 and 1/2 ...22 million people live in Southern California, 3 million alone just in the OC, I have been here a year and I have made 3 friends. Maybe 4. Go me.

I know it's ridiculous. Who wouldn't want to be friends with a bitch-faced fake ginger who only knows how to express herself through a laptop keyboard? People are crazy!! ...Ok, admittedly it is probably my fault for not being better at allowing people the chance to actually get to know how awesome I truly am (which is a lot, by the way, in case you were on the fence about being my friend) by never ever talking or smiling or making eye contact with anyone like my life depends on it. But there are moments of realization that one occasionally has where they land in a situation that shows them how sad their lives truly are. I had one last night!

Saturday night on a holiday weekend, first week back in California, and where did I find myself? Michaels at 7:30pm picking up art supplies so I could get all my work for my Thursday class out of the way that very night.  I had found the supplies I needed, and my next stop was Fedex print center to pick up some things I needed to be printed out. (Side note: it is cheaper for me to get someone else to print color pictures on regular paper at Fedex than it is for me to do at home with store bought ink...that is how pathetic printer technology is these days. Doesn't that make you depressed? It makes me depressed) However the prints weren't due to be ready by 8pm and I found myself with a little time to kill. So I ended up staring at all the different colors of glitter and variety of sequin shapes, and then trying on child sized foam hats shaped like dogs, cows, and sharks. I really liked the shark one, but it didn't fit very well. Also it didn't match very many things in my wardrobe.

I didn't actually find this too pathetic at the time. I thought it was kind of funny actually, me being a fully grown adult weirdo in a craft store, so I posted a Facebook status update about it. It wasn't until someone replied to it with a very serious comment about how things would get better and I should keep my chin up that I started to think about how it really was kind of sad. Maybe I am reading too far into things, maybe my sense of humor was just overlooked, but also I happened to pass someone that I do not have much respect for on the way out of the store. And when you realize that you are living the same life as someone you really don't like much, that is when you start to feel a little uncomfortable. I pondered all this once I got home and started/finished my project five days in advance, as usual.


You know, I climbed a massive mountain about a week and a half ago. A friend of mine asked if I wanted to climb a fourteener with her and I said yes. In case you aren't lucky enough to have ever lived in the best state ever, Colorado is famous for it's enormous peaks, many which surpass 14,000 feet and quite a chunk of which are some of the highest in the entire country. Neither of us had ever done it, and feeling as if I was missing out of one of the great sacred Colorado pastimes, I was pretty excited to finally be a part of the secret mountain climbing club with all their special mountain climbing rituals. Little did I know these rituals were not happy, fun after school club rituals, but secret brotherhood cult rituals of pain and suffering.

At this point in my badass fit lady journey, I consider myself in fairly good shape. I exercise six or seven days a week, often poling for two hours at a time. I have taken several strength building classes on a weekly basis. I have spent the past three months running around mountains with children for eight hours a day. Heck, I even haven't lost my running skills! I can still easily run three to five miles, and I am proud to say I found out yesterday that I can still run all the way up the death hill by my apartment, which is pretty darn steep and long. All of this I could not and did not do when I started this blog, but now I am stronger and better and can. But I was still not prepared enough for this hike.

You know, I don't think I can even use the word hike. This was not a hike. A hike is a nice, pleasant experience where you see pretty trees and bushes and little woodland creatures running about gathering nuts or whatever. I like hikes. I go on hikes all the time. It's my only excuse to get out of my apartment in California besides school. But this was not a hike. It was a mother-fucking climb.

It didn't start out so bad. The first mile was almost completely flat. There were little bridges built over the muddy parts. We had a very pleasant river crossing. The 6am morning air kept us nice and cool. That first mile blew by. Then suddenly things started going up. Ok, no problem, I thought. You can't expect to climb a fourteen thousand foot peak and not expect to go up a little bit. Our guide-- an old high school acquaintance of mine and friend of my friend who recruited him in order to prevent us from killing ourselves-- was going a bit fast, but hey, I was in good shape, right? Not a problem. Shed a few layers and keep on going. There was another group not far behind us. My inner-competitive asshole wanted to beat them to the top no matter what. They passed us within the first 20 minutes, with the news that we had just missed a moose down by the parking lot. Dammit! I missed a moose sighting again. (Fun fact: I have never seen a moose in the wild. Hooray irony). It only made me resent them more. But I didn't have time to fixate on it much longer because...

That is when the trail started to go really up. By no coincidence, that is when I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. But I reassured myself that this hike was expected to have a certain level of difficulty. I mean, it was supposed to be one of the easiest fourteeners in Colorado, but that is for a fourteener. These mountains wouldn't be famous if they were easy to climb. However, those thoughts did not make it any easier, though I still refused to be the one who asked for a water break. I stubbornly kept my mouth shut and my body burning in wait of someone else to need a break. I wonder what I would have done if everyone else had that ridiculously stupid mindset? Kept on hiking til I passed out? The world may never know. I never want to find out.

So the hike kept on going up. The up never ended after that first bit, actually. That is the funny thing about mountains. They kind of just keep on going upwards until you reach the top. That is what makes them mountains. But I think by that point the altitude was starting to get to my brain and I kept on wondering stupidly why it just kept going up. It was also starting to get colder, another factor that my addled brain just couldn't seem to handle. The sun was rising, why would it get colder? Maybe because we were ascending a fourteen thousand foot peak and we started above treeline? What? What is treeline? What are trees? I hadn't seen a tree in so long... I also discovered that there is this thing called wind, and it can make you very cold, especially when you are standing on a rocky mountain face at 7am and it is kind of cloudy to begin with. I was starting to regret earlier that morning when I arrived to pick up my friend at 4am and she asked me if I needed gloves and I just gave her this funny look and said "why would I need gloves?" It was August, after all. Oh what a fool I'd been. For I had enough jackets and a warm hat and my toes were doing alright, but it was my fingers that were suffering the most from this wind thing.

I think we all were starting to feel it about halfway in. Ok, well, not our guide since he was doing this for the third time. And that was just this mountain particular. But me and my friend, we were not doing so well. I still refused to ask for breaks. Instead I just powered through and kept ahead of everyone so that I could hike for a minute, and then wait a minute for people to catch up, and then hike, and then wait, and, well, you get it. It was kind of a stupid strategy. You think pacing myself would have been a better plan, but it helped me avoid admitting weakness and that is the important part. The trail was relentless. Why so much up?? I still didn't understand the basic physical properties of mountainsides. The wind got worse. My fingers were frozen, even though I kept them stuffed up in my jacket sleeves and blew on them in a feeble attempt to get them warm every few minutes. There was nothing to see on the trail but rocks and moss at this point. I had not seen a single living creature the entire way except for all the happy, experienced hikers who were coming back down. They had already reached the summit an hour ago. Those bastards. One of them had nothing but a sword. What the hell? Was I imagining that; is there really that little oxygen in my brain? It's my job coming back to haunt me. I really haven't gotten past this have I? No, I think my co-hikers saw it too. It's always good to know I am not going completely crazy.

After about two and a half hours of never ending up (seriously what was with all the up??) we reached the now legendary "flat part," that our friend/guide had told us about earlier in the hike. We had been long awaited this 200 yard stretch of flatness, as it signified the last leg of our journey, since it was quite close to the top. We had been whispering it in our minds the entire past hour, motivating ourselves forward. Ok, more like screaming it. "Flat part! Flat part! Gotta get to the FLAT part!" That and "Bagels. Avocados. Bagels and avocados. When we get to the top. Bagels. Avocados..." over and over again. The thought of tasty food motivated me more than anything, really. There is nothing like the motivator of good food, especially when it is food I don't usually allow myself to eat (Oh bagels, precious bagels, one day we will be together again, in a bright, beautiful place where nothing I eat actually counts... and that place is called pregnancy <3) The promise of a guilt-free bagel was all I could ever dream of.

One foot in front of the other, a task I always found pretty simple, had suddenly become the most grievous task I had ever had to complete. My feet were like lead. How could anyone expect me to keep lifting them? But somehow I did. I had no need to stop and find a place to pee like my co-hikers. My body had turned off all other sensors for any unnecessary actions at this point. It was just one foot in front of the other. This included my fingers, which no longer were functioning. I struggled to perform simple motor skills like zip up my backpack or button my jacket. It was like first grade all over again. The horror. Thank god I didn't need to go to the bathroom, on second thought. Asking someone to zip up my pants for me would have been too much deja-vu for my liking.

And somehow, after resting at that infamous flat bit, huddled behind a rock to escape the wind and find some warmth, we managed to get back up, I managed to zip up my backpack somehow and we ascended the final stretch of the mountain, where there was no trail, but just rocks upon rocks upon rocks. Like real mountain climbers. And then we were there. And I wanted to die. Instead I ate a bagel with avocado and it was the best thing in the entire world. We had won. I got my guilt-free bagel as a prize. It was true triumph. And in case you don't believe me, here is a bunch of proof:

And if photos aren't good enough proof for you, here is a video which is even better proof, because while, thanks to art school, I may be good enough to photoshop a picture of myself standing on a mountain, I am definitely not good enough to fake a video of it (prior to popular belief, art school and film school are two very different things) so you can have no doubts that I really climbed one of the easiest fourteeners in Colorado. Hey, it was hard, ok??

This video should affirm everything I have recounted here. Also, note my runny nose. That was how cold I was. I had a RUNNY NOSE. Oh dear god. 

Coming down the mountain wasn't even an issue. It was just like slowly regaining my brain, as if I had left little pieces of it behind on various parts of the trail because it was too heavy to take with me. It got warmer too, and my fingers also slowly regained control. For awhile I was little afraid I might actually suffer nerve damage because they still hurt a lot, they did at last return to their completely normal state... Oh who am I kidding? These fingers are far beyond normal--they are magic! I have magic fingers! I type magical blogs with them! Yea!

So maybe I still left part of my brain on that mountain. Who knows.

The point is we didn't die or suffer any major injury. Mostly thanks to our guide, but you know, we did a little of the work ourselves too. I kept putting one foot in front of the other even though it felt like the most impossible task I could ever do. It's funny, because ever since I started this blog to keep me motivated through my quest for physical strength, I have gotten so much better at it. Physical tasks have become fun instead of work. I enjoy them and seek them out. I have found myself getting kind of good at them. And this, in turn, makes me feel stronger, and as the blog is themed, more badass. But it's the emotional strength I truly struggle with. I always thought my weakest point was my physical body, but as I have shown, I can push that to the limits and discover a whole new strength inside of me. But when pushed to emotional limits, what happens? I end up hiding in my apartment, literally cutting and pasting pictures onto presentation boards on a night when almost any normal young adult would be out, catching up and reuniting with their college friends. (I just want to redeem myself by saying that my all pictures were of half naked ladies though, so I can sound more mature and stuff)

I just don't know how to stand strong inside my own self to seek out and fight for what I want. It's a strange thing, too, because I have found so much of my physical limits are really set by my mind, not my body. The other day I ran up a hill that took me months to literally get over the first time, even though I hadn't done it in three and a half months. I realized that the only reason it took me so long before was because I didn't think I could. The same probably goes for my social life and my own mental game. I haven't made friends because I don't think I can; I don't talk out loud in public settings because I don't think I am any good at it. That may or may not be true, but I feel the question opens a whole new chapter in my badass journey. Now that I have found at least the beginning of my physical badass path, how am I going to be more adept at being a social badass and not just some awkward white girl who can't talk to anyone and goes to the beach by herself to read Lord of the Rings? ...Actually I really enjoyed doing that and totally plan on doing it again, but you know what I mean. How am I going to walk the walk and actually make people see me for what I feel I am? My track record is not the best for social interactions, so this is a whole new challenge for me to tackle. So, new goal? Publicly come out of the badass closet. Like, in the real world. Not just on the internet. I don't know how I am going to do it, but I feel like I will tear all my hair out and start running around the beach, all bald and crazy and probably sunburnt, begging for people to be my friends and singing Steve the Egg.

I guess we will have to see how it all turns out.

Now, to end things off on an extra badass note, here is a picture of me doing something really cool:

Whoops, wrong photo.

Ok, here we go.

(This whole blog was really just an excuse to show this one picture, because it is one of my favorite moves and I have been working up to it literally all summer and I am super proud and want you to be impressed and stuff)

(Also please excuse my awkward sunburn for being awkward)


(Oh my god I am going to die of skin cancer now, aren't I?)