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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Health, Love, Personal

Three Months In

This winter royally kicked my ass. It kicked everyone’s ass–making plans around snow, worrying about whether or not I could work (or worse, get stuck there,) dealing with everyone else’s craziness stocking up on bread and eggs, the works. The stories I have of rude customers from my retail job over the last few weeks are astounding. Adding to this mayhem is that I’m one of those people that gets miserable without sunshine. The bad thoughts I had leading up to my 29th birthday came back with a vengeance–that I wasn’t good enough, that I was stuck, I was unwanted.

I know that’s bullshit, but man, I was really feeling it. My mom, also feeling snow crazy, decided that we should go away, somewhere warm, with plenty of sunshine and no work. That place? Disney World. She insisted that it’s a much different experience when there’s no children and only two people in the group, that it wouldn’t be anything like the family trip this past August. I was reluctant for a while, but as the trip drew near and the negative thoughts and emotions grew stronger, I was more than happy to bounce.

It was so worth it. It was so worth it to go, to get away. Yes, we had a jam packed itinerary, but I was the most relaxed I had been in months. It was nice to be removed from certain situations, and in new places. There was sunshine! Flowers! Warmth! I met Ariel! I got a kick ass hot stone massage! And, perhaps this is the weirdest thing, but being in Disney World made me realize a few things about myself:

  • I’m not ready for kids. Although I have more patience for kids now than I did in my early twenties, the mothers at my hotel looked so worn down and exhausted every day. I was that person in the parks wondering why there were so many damn kids (because, you know, it’s DISNEY WORLD.)
  • I have to take things one by one. I’ve been making myself crazy thinking that I have to get my own place, a better paying job and my version of Marshall all before I turn thirty. That’s insane. I feel if I take it one at a time, it’s less pressure and things will fall into place themselves otherwise.
  • I have to shift my perspective when it comes to thinking about time. I’ve been angry because I feel like I’ve lost two and a half years and that I’m trapped. I actually began thinking about it the weekend before I left; where I attended the engagement party of a good friend. At the time of the party last year, she and her fiancé were broken up. I’d always been looking at it from the opposite side; that it only seems to be when things are going well that bad things happen. It can go the other way, and I can’t be on my guard all the time anymore.
  • The most important: I can never be my “old” self again. And after some time away from my usual routine, I don’t want to be. If I’m my old self, that means (a) Matty is still here and (b) that means that I’m back in my early twenties where I was even more ridiculous than I am now–whiny, hung up on stupid, stupid guys, ungrateful (I want to tell my college self to chill out so bad, that things really weren’t so bad) drunk and really unsure of myself. I want to keep moving forward.

I know this may seem like a bit of a rehash from my last personal post, but I need a reminder sometimes. I think we all do, that things aren’t so bad, to be more patient, to slow down a little, or in some cases, speed up. Once you graduate from high school and/or college, when you know all the bullshit is going to end, there is no definitive end to things, unless you are 100% certain you know when exactly you’re going to die. It’s scary for some. An earlier draft of this post, titled “How Many Times Can I Learn to Fly?” detailed how I was sick of learning life lessons, sick of setbacks. But perhaps instead of resisting, I should actually put these lessons into practice.

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Celebrity, Women

Tess Munster is NOT Promoting Obesity. Shut up.

When I first heard the news that 29-year-old Tess Munster, a plus size social media queen who started the #effyourbeautystandards campaign, landed a major modeling contract, I was psyched. At 5’5″ and 260 lbs, she’s the first legit plus size model. (yeah, Calvin Klein, hate to break it to you, but size 10 is not plus sized. You can find size 10 at any store that’s not 5.7.9.)  Munster is gorgeous, and it’s refreshing to see someone closer to my body type as a mainstream model.

 

However, there are a lot of backwards minded people that take to the comments section to express outrage that Munster is “promoting obesity.” This is so frustrating on so many levels. As a woman who has spent most of her life plus sized, let me tell you–it ain’t easy. It isn’t easy for anyone, but for some reason, if you’re above a certain size, you get shit on quite a bit, even when people are trying to sing your praises. Check out this awesome comment from Sean Stephane Marin on HuffPo Canada’s piece on Munster (yeah, smart move using Facebook to comment, by the way:)

 

“So we’ve gone from the way to skinny to the Frighteningly Beyond Voluptuous.

Sorry. I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice person. But being a model is about the superficial only, and if this passes for beauty now, I weep for this society. Someone should get this woman to a gym pronto.” 

 

That’s not even the worst, check out Brea O’Keefe’s comment:

 

So glad to hear this!

Right now, only 2 out of 3 Americans are obese. We can do better. Let’s shoot for 3 out of 3 by promoting obesity even more than we do. Let’s tell everyone, “Obesity is beautiful!”.

After all, those of us who watch our weight don’t mind at all that our health insurance premiums will go up to pay for all the medical problems (diabetes, heart disease, knee and hip replacements, etc) you’ll have. ; )

 

I’m outraged. These people are ignorant and I’m so sick of the fat=instant diabetes argument. ANYONE can get type 2 diabetes, even–gasp–thin people! She is not promoting obesity. She is representing a body type that does exist. And several outlets have pointed out that she works out with a trainer. And this is promoting obesity how…?

 

The thing that really pisses me off is people think that plus sized people don’t know that they’re plus sized, and thus, have to be reminded at every  turn. I’m on the smaller end of plus size and I still get shit–I once had a customer tell me that because of my size, I was going to get type II diabetes. I raged on him and let him know that he did not have the right to talk to me like that, my health was none of his business, all while he was babbling that he was trying to help, it’s how he got type II diabetes, he was sorry. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t tell him that he was likely going to get cancer eating the heavily processed chocolate syrup he was purchasing, so why not go to the produce department and get an apple instead?

 

I think a lot of these commenters don’t realize that they’re not on Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity council and what they say is not only hurtful, but toxic. It’s annoying and it gets internalized. It’s easy to laugh off, but there’s this little voice that pops up, there must something wrong with me if people keep talking. Why am I so big? Do men only date me out of desperation? I think the people who are shitting on Tess Munster are verbalizing their own self hatred: “how dare this larger woman be prettier than me!! That’s not what society told me!! I’m ashamed that find her sexually attractive!! I’m taking my shit out on her because she’s an easy target!!” 

 

This just needs to stop. For any size, really–I’ve had friends be whispered about for having an non-existent eating disorder simply because they were thin. I once snapped at a friend trying to help me on a bad day that, because she gets stopped on the street and complimented on her beauty that she knew nothing about the difficulties of dating. Her response: “It may be easier for me to meet [guys,] but it winds up being the same in the end–they either want nothing to do with me, or to just to sleep with me.” Nobody wins. So why can’t we take Munster’s modeling contract as a victory for women of a certain size instead of a forum for obesity and health? Doesn’t it get tiring to shit on people after a while?

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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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