Calories and Holidays

Every year it makes the rounds on Facebook in groups, fitness pages, Instagram, etc. You know, that one poster that tells you how many push-ups or burpees or miles your candy, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas brunch will “cost” you. I saw one “motivational post” on a Women of CrossFit group once (Remember to not get off track this Thanksgiving, ladies!), and when I commented with my opinion (No men’s group would ever post shit like that), people ganged up on me to tell me to lay off.

Lay off me I'm starving

It’s ok. I get mad when I’m hungry, too.

I get that the holidays are the hardest time of the year to control what you eat if you have weight loss goals and are working hard toward them throughout the year. I get that it’s hard to “get back on track” if you allow yourself one day of “off limits” food. I get that I am lucky that I don’t currently struggle with weight. But these calorie posts and, “Watch what you eat, ladies!” comments kill me. Our culture is SO focused on this sort of perspective. It’s toxic! To our minds and to our bodies! It’s what leads to kids thinking they’re fat. I thought I was fat in middle school because I heard this sort of talk from people I went to school with who heard it from adults! That’s where it starts.

Middle School Me

Calorie counting should not be a middle-school math activity.

If you’re doing it right most of the other days of the year, a day of indulgence will not kill you. You will not gain 100 pound, 50 pounds, 15 pounds, or really any pounds in the long-term from eating candy this Halloween night. You will not immediately die of a heart attack if you enjoy turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes (white, starchy goodness) and gravy on Thanksgiving. And, for heaven’s sake, eat a pastry on Christmas morning — because that won’t doom you to obesity for life either.

Eating Junk

The notion that we need to “burn off” our indulgences and treats that we are enjoying during a holiday enforces our already distorted relationships with food. This is why people drink “Diet Coke” and STILL THINK IT’S BETTER FOR YOU THAN REGULAR. Eat margarine (how many ingredients?!) and think that real butter (2 ingredients) is evil. Choose Oreos (they’re vegan!) over homemade treats.

Butter a Carb

We need to stop focusing on CALORIE COUNT. That’s not what matters in life. So eat your freaking candy tonight, and don’t worry about the burpees. Life will go on.

Pre-Marathon Utah Vacation

Oh, I totally forgot to write about that marathon I ran in Utah last month. Halfway because I’m slammed up to my eyeballs with schoolwork and work-work and when I’m not doing that, I sleep or eat. Anyway, we spent all summer training for the Big Cottonwood Marathon in Salt Lake City, Utah. We planned it like a “race-cation” where we’d go before the race and explore the state and city, then finish off the experience with the race. And I’m super glad we did it that way.

Seductive Canyon Looks

Ladies…

We started off flying in to Salt Lake City late on a Tuesday night and renting a car there. I was an absolute nightmare on the flight. Seriously, Sean’s never flown with me, and he was truly in for a treat. It was a rough landing, and I was sweating through all the clothes I was wearing, and audibly panicking about the descent. I kept telling the pilot to figure his shit out, as we swayed back & forth above the Utah mountains in the dark, not so delicately gliding toward the landing strip. Sean kept telling me to breathe & to close the window, but I felt like the window was my only semblance of control. If I was going to die, I was going to see it coming! Spoiler alert: We lived, and I looked like a total asshole.

Don't act like you're not impressed

Don’t act like you’re not impressed

Before the trip, we requested an SUV, and they gave us a super mega fancy Jeep Cherokee with eco-drive. That is how rich people must live! We got to our hotel somehow & fell asleep almost instantly, because it was almost midnight East Coast time, and we are VERY early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of people.

Rich People Car

Look how rich we seemed!

The next day we headed out to make the trek to the Natural Bridges National Monument. It’s a 5ish-hour drive from Salt Lake City all along the nothingness of Utah. We drove and drove… and droveanddroveanddrove until we finally made it to the National Park. There was about one-half of a gas station along the way, and they pretty much charged $500 a gallon, but it’s ok because they had a designated gas station dog. Once we arrived Sean made friends with the other National Park people, and then we filled up our water bottles to head out to hike the natural bridges. (Side note: The automatic water bottle fillers in airports and throughout Utah were SO COOL. We need them everywhere. Think of all the plastic we’d save!)

driving

Duck face!

I was not looking forward to this part of the vacation at first, to be honest, because I was afraid it would mess up my marathon. But when we got there, I was SO glad we went. It was gorgeous. We hiked each of the big natural bridges (there were 3!) and then went on a mini-hike to see some old ruins. There were so many steep ladders and weird climbs, but it was so beautiful. I wont inundate you with pictures, but here are a few.

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That night we stayed up late to go to the astronomy lesson where the park guide got out a HUGE telescope. The park is a Certified Dark Park, meaning it’s far enough in the middle of no where to not have any light pollution. The park ranger got out a HUUUUUUGE telescope, and we saw the Milky Way, Saturn, the moon (through a filter because it was SO bright), and other clusters of stars. It was awesome!

nbnm awesome

We rented the SUV for this part of the adventure, because Sean’s big plan was to sleep in the car and head back the next day. Natural Bridges only has camping, unless you want to drive an hour or so outside for sketchy hotels. But his plan didn’t work out for him as it’s hard to sleep in a car when you’re 6’2 and bony as hell, so he got us headed out around 2am. Yes, 2am. That’s actually fine for us, since we normally get up at 4EST.

sean

 

How you look after zero sleeps

So we headed back to Salt Lake City, and played tourist at the Natural History Museum while we waited for our hotel room to open. The museum was super cool, with photography, American Indian, and dinosaur exhibits, but it was swarming with youths on field trips which really killed my vibe.

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We were exhausted after that, and headed to our hotel when our room was finally ready. The next day we visited Mormonville, and were almost converted at least 10 times. They got so excited that I kept asking questions, and then you shoulda seen the disappointment on their faces when I said I was just a nosy jerk… But we saw the temple and the tabernacle and learned about Mormon heritage. Then we had lunch at the famous Red Iguana where we tried mole for the first time. I don’t know what the big deal is honestly. I’d rather just have salsa.

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The next day was the marathon, so we had cheaps Whole Foods pasta for dinner, and headed to bed early, ready for our 4am wake up!

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“All this happened, more or less.”

Since starting school and my new-new job, I’ve learned to REALLY accept the pain in the butt that is Atlanta traffic. I currently commute about 2.5-4 hours out of my day, depending on the holiday and how many idiots get into wrecks on the side of the highways. That’s a lot of time to waste, and since I have an allergic reaction to wasting time, I decided to stop it. Instead, I have started downloading audiobooks to listen to while I sit with everyone else on the planet trying to get to work or get home.

So I figured I’d review a few of the audiobooks I’d listened to so far.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers by Malcolm GladwellThis nonfiction piece was narrated by Gladwell, and even had an interview with him at the end about the book and his research for it. I really liked this one, because it turned the American, or Western world’s notion of what is success and what it takes to be successful onto it’s head. My friend from my old-new job actually mentioned this book a few times, so when I saw it in the iTunes audiobook store, I had to buy it. Gladwell talks about how SO many factors play a part in the success of rich and famous people, of people we consider geniuses and legends. From the Audible.com description,  “We pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.” People are more than their perceived effort in an area. I recommend it. It’s a great listen, and you’re full of so many facts afterward. Plus, this book/audiobook serves as a great discussion piece.

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

This is How You Lose HerThis is a collection of short stories that was in the $5 section of iTunes audiobooks. I’ll be honest that this wasn’t really on any of my lists, but I’d heard a review for it on NPR a while back and the cover caught my attention again. The book is written really well,

“See, many months ago, when Magda was still my girl, when I didn’t have to be careful about almost anything, I cheated on her with this chick who had tons of eighties freestyle hair. Didn’t tell Magda about it, either. You know how it is. A smelly bone like that, better off buried in the backyard of your life.”

But I can’t say the perspective or dialogues were ones that I typically read. In fact, there were times when I was downright embarrassed sitting alone in my car, hoping no one else in traffic could hear some of the things my audiobook was saying. There were plenty of funny parts where I caught myself laughing alone in my car, though. And also very poignant stories, like a few about the narrator’s brother going from the neighborhood macho man to a man slowly dying from cancer. It’s not a book I would typically read, and to be honest, if I had been reading it instead of listening, I might have quit the book midway. But I finished it because there’s not much more to do when you’re sitting in traffic. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it was something new.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

slaughterhouse fiveA classic I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read yet, I always had the intention of picking up Slaughterhouse Five but never committed. Until I found it in the $5 audiobook section, and it was fate. This book was excellent. It was hilarious. It was thought-provoking. It was full of witty and interesting one-liners. When a character is on morphine in the book, another comments, “How nice — to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.” When speaking about a character who has had to essentially take over her family at just 21, the narrator quips, “All this responsibility at such an early age made her a bitchy flibbertigibbet.” And this one,

And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.

It’s the story of a WWII veteran, Billy Pilgrim as he travels through time and space and war and life. And Vonnegut’s descriptions of people, places, situations, everyday life don’t seem as contrived as those of current-day authors. This audiobook also had an interview with the author at the end, but I honestly could not handle how old Kurt Vonnegut sounded during the interview so I didn’t finish that part. I absolutely recommend the book, though. Read it. Listen to it. Then do it again.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

the curious incident of dog in the night-timeA newer piece I’d seen in stores, I finally committed to this one when it was in the $5 section of iTunes audiobooks. I read the description and did a little listen of the audiobook sample, but I kinda of went out on a ledge with this one too. I liked it more than This is How You Lose Her. But anyway, it’s about 15-year-old Christopher who has a version of Aspergers. He lives with his father in Swindon, a town in England. The story begins with Christopher going on a walk in the middle of the night to find his neighbor’s dog (a black poodle named Wellington–going to name a dog Wellington one day) has been killed in the yard with a “garden fork.” (I realized later that it’s a pitch fork. How terrible.) Christopher reads a lot, so he decides to be his own kind of Sherlock Holmes and investigate the dog-murder. The book has a great perspective on the point of view of people with autism spectrum disorders:

“My memory is like a film. That is why I am really good at remembering things, like the conversations I have written down in this book, and what people were wearing, and what they smelled like, because my memory has a smelltrack which is like a soundtrack.”

The author claims not to be an expert on autism spectrum disorders, but from my experience (obviously as a person who does NOT have autism, so take this with my grain of salt, please), I think he nails it with Christopher. But the book also is a story about families. I liked it well enough. Not the worst, not the best.

So, that’s what I’ve got so far. I also listened to the book The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox, but that was for class and not for fun. What audiobooks would you recommend? I’m thinking of joining Audible since I’m obviously consuming them quickly.