fitness, Health, Personal

Furey Vs. The Giant Ledge

Before I begin, here’s some music to set the tone of my unexpected cathartic journey this weekend:

Since my last post about the joys of run/walking, I kept up for a few weeks before dealing with a series of events, which, had they happened one at a time, I could’ve handled. But since they happened in the span of two weeks, I was done. It all started with yet another crush gone wrong, leaving me feeling broken hearted. Worst thing to ever happen to me? Absolutely not. But when you add the pressure of company visits at your retail job and other major shakeups, getting cursed out by one customer and then being treated like scum over a minor issue by another, finding out your last surviving grandparent is ill and not going to make the week, causing a great deal of stress fights in your family and sure enough, he dies a day shy of a full week, you’re shot. You are defeated. July was bad enough with Matty’s birthday, but now all this shit? Done.

So, with time to spare before the funeral, I kept my plans to visit my best friend in the Catskills. Marcia*, my true blue, ride or die best friend who survived a two week barrage of text messages of one new thing after another with me. We stopped in Kingston on the way up for Asian food (Sushi for her, Thai for me) and I was just tired, sad and worn out. Lucky for me, Marcia isn’t the “aww boo, let’s eat copious amounts of ice cream while watching Magic Mike in our sweats! We can do tequila shots and paint our nails! It’ll be soooooo fun!” type. She decided I needed to do something bigger. Her first suggestion was white water river tubing down the Esopus. I shot it down as the previous summer, the creek royally kicked my ass. “All right,” she said. “we’ll go on a hike then. A BIG hike.” Along with her boyfriend, Derek, we headed east to conquer Giant Ledge, a three mile hike with an 1,100 foot elevation. For experienced hikers, that may seem piddly, but to a frustrated, much closer to sea level girl? Game on.

I was not at all prepared for what was ahead late Saturday afternoon. Rocks and rocks and rocks and an incline greeted me after we left the parking area. 5’7″ Marcia and 5’10” Derek practically flew up the trail from the get-go. 5’3″ me stupidly tried to keep up with them. When that didn’t work, I knew it was ultimately up to me to take care of myself. Yes, Marcia and Derek were kind enough to wait at certain points, but overall, it was mostly bestie and I doing call and response type yells to assure ourselves. I was embarrassed at first–fuck, I’m in worse shape than I thought, we should’ve gone tubing, I’m making a great impression on her boyfriend whom I just met last night. But after I passed the point of feeling like I was going to vomit, I realized–I had to do this. After the two weeks of heartbreak, stress, anger and death, I needed the break. I needed to do something out of the ordinary, which is why Marcia went for climbing over cupcakes.

Wouldn't you pick this over cupcakes?

Wouldn’t you pick this over cupcakes?

I felt like an awkward Spider-man, climbing like a baby beast while singing “Roar” and “Hearts on Fire” in my head. I was sore, my arms and legs on fire. Then, just when I thought I was getting to the top, I got lost. Just what I needed. I was scared for about thirty seconds, but then logic kicked in. I got lost making a left, therefore, going right would probably get me where I needed. Sure enough, I was right–Marcia’s voice got louder and louder and I was amped. I met her, and asked, “where the fuck is this point?” “Here!” she chirped, pointing to clearing where you could see the hills for miles. I stepped on to the ledge, and almost cried. If I could do this, I can do anything. Forget the idiot boys and angry customers. They don’t define me. While it is unfortunate my grandfather passed away, that’s life. Life isn’t going to stop because I’m having a bad time. 

Don’t worry, it didn’t end like a total teen TV episode–I tensed up on the way back down due to a fear of slipping, so I had a wicked headache the rest of the night. Yesterday and today, the area above my left knee is really feeling it. But it was worth it. So, so worth it. Thank you, Marcia.

*names changed to protect teachers from nosy children

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Health, Personal

“I No Longer Walk or Run. I Lumber.” (or: Furey’s First PPA Run in a Long Time)

Picture it: Lake Carmel, spring 2013. I was a run/walking maniac. I’d be outside every day, going 4-6 miles on foot while listening to Queen on blast, stopping to stretch. I also did free weights every other day, so I was in fantastic shape. I wasn’t eating junk, only needed one cup of coffee to get through the day, and slept very well.

Fast forward to June 2015, and I am a mess. I’m doughy, I’ve gained more weight than I thought, and I feel awful. I was still stuck in my terrible winter habit of waking up late, making the first of two cups of coffee, and eating brunch while staying cozy in my living room chair and catching up with my friend Hulu til it was time for me to go to work. In my head, I knew I had to get back in shape–I bought brand new hand weights, stocked up on fitness magazines, bought healthier food, just deterrrrmined to start exercising again. I mean, I had the basic motivation–smaller clothes, a better appearance, feeling good, having energy. I mean, I felt like a prince of the universe two summers ago:

But it didn’t fully click until today. I was sitting inside, on my laptop and streaming Hulu through my Xbox. I look outside, and see that it is gorgeous. It’s not ridiculously hot, nor is it cold and raining. So why the hell am I sitting inside? I got dressed, put on sunblock, and did some stretches before hitting the pavement. I felt good, I felt determined, I was ready to sprint. And I did–not very far, as I got winded rather quick. But that didn’t make me turn around and go home. I did my original 4 miles. Although I did have to stop from time to time, swore a lot (I think I said “fuck I’m fat/old” more than once) and couldn’t sprint for as long as I used to, I still did it.

So why today of all days? Was it simply the nice weather? No. It boiled down to two larger reasons:

–I Do NOT wish to repeat the health issues of 2009-11.

I can’t explain how or why, but around spring 2009, I started gaining weight which to me was alarming as after I had gained a shit ton of weight in the previous school year due to my over consumption of cheese, fattening coffee and champagne, I made a very conscious effort to drop the excess weight and then some. I kept it up, walking everywhere and taking a tae kwon do class which helped me get to a more manageable weight. But for whatever reason, no matter what I did in spring 2009, I just kept gaining weight. By early 2010, I was almost 300 lbs. 300 pounds, and I’m only 5’2″ and change.

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I look like the female version of Cleveland Brown, Jr. What a sad time that was.

Then, my period, after being dormant for almost two years, came back in the form of blood clots. I admit stress didn’t help–lucky me graduated in 2009, when it was considered a miracle to be hired. But was it really just stress? Nope–turns out, my metabolism fully shit out on me, which contributed to the period mess, which contributed to the gall bladder issues, so on and so forth. I was able to get it under control and I was determined to keep it that way, making sure I was doing at least some form of exercise once a week, no being dormant. I don’t want to relieve that, my foot has started to act wonky from the lack of activity and I’m like, no way, I’m nipping this in the bud. No more health issues.

–I Do NOT Want to Let Depression* Win

Oddly enough, when I started my crazy running schedule, it had only been about six months since Matty’s passing. But after this killer winter, combined with seemingly everyone I know getting engaged/married/pregnant/promoted/new apartments in a short span of time, I was just shot. I’m angry about that. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy for my friends and their milestones, I’m angry because it’s been almost three years and I’m only now “waking up” from the grief fuzz and feel like Leo The Late Bloomer of life.  I mean, it’s a tough thing–some people seem to be fully up and running in a short amount of time, other people I know experienced loss over a decade ago and they’re still frozen in that time. I don’t want to be the latter–I made a promise to myself the night before Matty died that I would not completely fall apart, and want to stick to it. I want to make the most of things, not get trapped in the emotional heft of loss.

*I haven’t been formally diagnosed with depression, but I really didn’t know how else to put it

So, there you have it. My physical health and my mental health are what finally got me out the door, along with the nice weather. And I’m glad I did–I forgot how much fun it was to put on earbuds and just go. Be outside, see different people (yet not have to talk to them if you don’t want to,) not worry about appearances. It’s good to release those endorphins!

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Personal

How I’m Getting Fine at 29

I mentioned this concept in my last personal post, but I never really detailed how exactly I was going to get fine at 29. Yes, these are pretty much new years’ resolutions (and what better timing!) but I’m not going to New York Sports Club for a week, nor will I start some crazy diet that will go out the window two weeks after that. This is about long term goals, that will last past 29.

 

1. I will get fit to the point where I can run up a mountain in the snow

 

This is not going to happen in a year. I will be the first to admit as I’m not Sly Stallone and had the other three Rocky movies/First Blood/Rhinestone under my belt before shooting Rocky IV. Nor am I 5’10” (was I really the only one who thought Sly was about 5’4″ all these years?) But I do want to be that strong without the reliance of fancy machines or steroids, just rely on my body. My problem is that I get mad at myself for not being able to beat Ivan Drago right away. I just have to remember my experience in tae kwon do.  I took a class in college, and I loved it. Although I couldn’t run without getting winded after about a lap and a half during warm ups and most Asian men don’t have hips and a butt the way I do and had to wear track pants instead the proper uniform pants, I kept at it. I fought hard, and it paid off–I surprised the instructor who thought I was going to quit after the first week by passing my promotion test at the end of the semester on the first go. And speaking of fighting spirit…

 

2.  I will retain my enthusiasm and energy

“Headlong” is the last music video of Queen with Freddie Mercury shot in color. A little less than a year after this video was shot, Mercury succumbed to AIDS. Although he doesn’t have the same level of energy that he did at Live Aid a few years earlier or especially during Queen’s heyday in the 70s, he’s still fierce. Listen to the vocal. I felt like an immense asshole after watching this the other night. Of course your energy is going to change after major events–but it shouldn’t come to a complete stop. I’m also not physically ill the way Mercury was. I have no excuse. I’m angry that I went numb over the summer.

 

3. I will remember that I want a Marshall, and not settle for a Sheldon.

“What?!” you’re probably thinking. Let me explain. When I was in my last year of college, I started watching How I Met Your Mother. I was instantly drawn to Marshall Eriksen. “That’s the kind of guy I want to end up with.” I told myself. Marshall to me is warm, he’s sweet, he’s caring, he’s doting without being obsessive, he’s energetic, he’s optimistic, he’s silly, yet at the same time, he’s smart, he has a great job, I could go on.

However, when I started dating as an adult, I was not finding Marshalls. I was finding perverts and (perhaps slightly worse,) Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory types. This is not to bash geeks–wouldn’t you consider Marshall to be slightly geeky given his interest in finding Bigfoot and the Lochness Monster?–but these guys had Sheldon’s cold, awkward, rude, condescending, stubborn behaviors down. Yet, part of me was always like, “oh, I shouldn’t be mean, I should give this poor guy a chance,” go out on a second date with them, and be more miserable than the first time out. No more. I’m done feeling bad that I want a Marshall and not a Sheldon. I’m not going to settle because I feel that “what if this is my last chance?!” Fuck that.

 

And while I know I have other things to improve on to get fine at 29, these three are the biggest, and again, this isn’t just for being 29, these are more long term goals: strength, enthusiasm and not settling. To others about to turn 29, how are you getting fine?

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News, Women

MMA Fighters With Breast Implants Can’t Fight In Louisiana

Last Wednesday, the Louisiana State Boxing and Wrestling Commission passed an emergency ruling prohibiting female fighters with breast implants from competing in MMA tournaments unless they have permission from the doctor who performed the surgery. Why? A few weeks ago, a fighter was forced to withdraw from a match after her implant ruptured.  Okay, they’re worried about the safety of the fighters, that’s actually kind of nice. That’s not what concerned the commission–apparently, this issue was so serious, it warranted a hearing at the Louisiana state capitol where commissioner Harold Williams decided that “if [women] want to look good, then they don’t have to be in the ring.”

 

If that weren’t bad enough, the meeting didn’t come about of concern for women’s health, it came because apparently, not only is it expensive to fix boob jobs, but “I don’t know of a single plastic surgeon who is going to allow his artistic work to be messed up,” says Dr. Thomas Ferguson, a member of the commission.

 

 

Are you serious? While we’ve discussed the darker side of plastic surgery, ultimately, it is a personal choice. So what if someone wants to compete in MMA matches and get breast implants? Women in sports have it rough–they have to be camera ready, yet if they’re too pretty, they’re just models with a bit of athletic ability. That being said, if they’re too “unattractive,” they’re butch punchlines. It’s really not fair, and this ruling isn’t helping. It’s also infuriating that it seems the doctors aren’t concerned about the fighters, but about their work–that the fighters are just sculptures, not human beings. I understand that it takes time, but come on, at least acknowledge that these women are humans.

 

This seems to have started from a place of concern–a fighter had a breast implant ruptured. But now, thanks to sexist comments, it’s turned into something else. But you have to admit, there is definitely some sexism behind the whole thing–one ruptured implant causes a moratorium while severe head injuries continue to happen left and right? It’s not like implants rupture every day–and yes, there can be serious health risks if one does, but there are women who have had ruptured implants that weren’t MMA fighters.

 

What’s your take, LivLunatics? Is the Louisiana State Boxing and Wrestling Commission right, or is this just another way to keep female athletes down?

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