Category Archives: Fitness

Mile 587: An Introvert’s Guide to the Gym

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“I spent my life becoming invisible.
It’s hard to maintain, and it’s hard to get by.”
–Neko Case, “Nothing to Remember”

Miles last week: 51
Total miles: 587

One of the good things about the Internet (that seems like an oxymoron) is that I feel like people generally better understand the difference between introverts and extroverts. That, or the Internet really only exists so that you can validate yourself and I frequently peruse the geek board on Pinterest, which sometimes has pins that tell you it’s okay be an introvert–pins like this one:

Basically, introverts are introspective, watchful, quiet, and need alone time to recharge. This, of course, causes a whole host of problems and assumptions that are slightly beside the point right now. What we’re talking about today is how being an introvert can affect your gym time.

That’s right. There, unfortunately, can be a social aspect to working out. There are people there. And sometimes they try to talk to you when you’re huffing and puffing and generally being a disgusting, sweaty mess. It’s madness.

If you’re an introvert like me (I know–you’re completely shocked to discover this personal detail about myself), then social interaction takes a bit more energy than it does for extroverts, whether you realize it or not. At the gym, though, you need every bit of energy you have to concentrate on burning those calories and not dropping weights on your foot. You’re going to have to take some steps to make sure no one else there does anything annoying, like talk to you.

As an introvert who frequents the gym, I am prepared to share my wisdom with you. Just follow these tips to ensure that you have plenty of fortitude to make it through a workout without collapsing from conversation-induced exhaustion.

Buy noise-cancelling headphones.
Nothing says “unapproachable” like completely covering your ears with technology specifically designed to muffle all sound around you. The only bad thing is that they’ll make your ears sweat. It’s also not very fun when you break them and have to duct tape them back together, but your hair keeps getting stuck in the adhesive when you wear them. I heard that from a friend…who is definitely not me…

Pick one machine and stick with it.
If you’re getting up and moving around to different areas of the gym, there is a chance that you will accidentally make eye contact with someone. And we all know what eye contact leads to: acknowledgement of another person that you may have to speak to. Whether it’s a quiet hello or a mumbled apology for almost crashing into him or her, this is a needless expense of energy that you will undoubtedly need if you have any hope of being able to move after a few sets of squats. If you ever squat and fall over, just know it’s because you nodded at that person when he or she walked past you on the way to the water fountain.

If you must move around, make sure you have your phone.
Your phone is a vital tool in evading social interaction. I tend to wait until after I’m off the elliptical or treadmill and on my way to the paper towels (because I’m sanitary and clean off any machine I touch) before I tell MyFitnessPal how many calories I’ve burned so that I can avoid looking at any people–or, you know, where I’m going. I only SOMETIMES run into things, okay?

Just pretend you know what you’re doing.
Whatever you do, DON’T ASK ANYONE HOW ANYTHING WORKS. There are diagrams on the machines for a reason, y’all.

Close your eyes when using equipment.
This will make it look like you are concentrating and working hard on muscle definition when you’re really just trying to stop yourself from glancing around the room and looking like a creeper. On a side note–don’t close your eyes when using the elliptical or treadmill, as this may result in vertigo or personal injury. I also heard that from a friend…

So there you have it. The key to surviving at the gym as an introvert is essentially to avoid eye contact and act like you belong.

Good luck out there, introvs*.

*I’m so sorry. I was trying to make “introvert” cool and abbreviated. I see now that it was a bad idea and deeply regret my attempt at colloquialism.

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Mile 333.5: On the Importance of Letting People Pass You

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“To me! To me!
To you and you and you, you, and you.”
–“La Vie Boheme,”
RENT

Miles last week: 18
Total miles: 333.5

On both Monday and Friday, I left work early because of snow. I am not a terribly aggressive driver, so I took the entire forty-five-mile drive home pretty slow. People passed me the entire time.

Sure, I maybe could have gone a little faster, but I figured, why risk it? I drive a ten-year-old Ford Focus. I’ve probably spent more on repairs than it’s worth and most of the time I would like to send it over a cliff–you know, in a mostly “Sure, I’d like smash you into pieces but I’d also be sad if you were gone” sort of way.

I have a complicated relationship with my car. This is beside the point.

The point is, I didn’t drive any faster than I felt comfortable. My philosophy was that I wasn’t racing anyone. I was the only one going to my house, and those other people may know better what their cars are capable of. I just did my thing and tried not to worry about what other people were doing while I rocked out to the Rent soundtrack.

(Yes, you heard that right. La Vie Boheme, baby.)

For some reason, it is harder to have this non-racing philosophy in other areas of life. Like the gym, for example.

I am not someone who has mastered the art of not comparing myself to others. It’s hard not to see other people and think you should be doing what they’re doing because they are obviously superior beings who have everything together.

I’m worried it might be a permanent condition. I think I’m just always going to hate the ginger bastard gliding along at ten miles an hour on the treadmill next to me (well, now he’s a few machines down since I’ve been relegated back to the elliptical).

Seriously, what’s that guy’s problem? He doesn’t even break a sweat. What a jerk. GO RUN A MARATHON OR SOMETHING. I hope you can’t find a port-a-potty when you need it.

Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, but you can’t always be looking at what everyone else is doing. Trust me–I know how difficult this is. You can only try to do better than you did the day before.

Perhaps the only way to fix this comparison disorder is to constantly pretend I’m driving in the snow and trying not to die. Apparently that’s the only time I remember that everyone is doing their own thing and I’m the only one going to my specific destination.

It’s not a race.

Unless you’re in a race.

Then it’s a race.

But you probably shouldn’t be in a race all the time.

If you are, you should probably rethink some things.

That’s a post for a different day.

Mile 315.5: I Know We’re Broken Up, But…

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“So be wise and keep on
Reading the signs of my body.”
–Shakira, “Hips Don’t Lie”

Miles last week: 52.5
Total miles: 315.5

Oh, Elliptical. I’m sorry–Lipty. I know you like it when I call you that.

I promised myself that we were through, but goddammit, I just can’t stay away from you.

The treadmill hasn’t been treating me too well lately, Lipty. I know it doesn’t mean to. It’s just that sometimes I push it, and the treadmill pushes back. It’s not the treadmill’s fault. It’s mine. This is what I get for trying to increase my running intervals, and right now, my left hip is paying for it. So, I’m feeling a little bit like an old lady and I need a friend.

That’s why I’m here. Well, that and the fact that all of the treadmills were taken the other day. I can’t believe that bastard is cheating on me on top of everything else. What a jerk. Do you have any cake? No–wait. Don’t answer that.

I suppose I’m a little lucky, though. Seeing no available treadmills sent me back to you and made me realize that you wouldn’t hurt me like the treadmill. With you, I’ve never questioned whether I should start looking into joint replacement.

Don’t take this for more than it is, Lipty. I’m only here because my left hip has decided to start protesting higher impact and I’m trying to prevent self-injury. I’m out of here after my new Dr. Scholl’s Sport Insoles (which are specifically made for all-day shock absorption and stress on the lower body joints) start to kick in and I feel a little more like my normal, older-than-young-adult self. This is purely physical.

SportInsoles

I had to buy the boy ones.

Don’t look at me like that, Lipty. I can’t help it. I need the treadmill. But right now, I need a little safety.

We’ll have fun while it lasts, though.

Mile 180: Things No One Tells You About Weight Loss, Part 1

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“In a few weeks, I will get time
To realize it’s right before my eyes.
And I can take it if it’s what I want to do.”
–Two Door Cinema Club, “What You Know”

Miles since last time: 69 (hehe–sorry, sometimes I’m 12)
Total miles: 180

When people talk about losing weight and getting fit, there are a few obvious things they’ll refer to: new clothes, more stamina, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

There are also many things that no one tells you–or at least, no one told me. I’ve started a list.

1.) You can feel your heartbeat in your torso when you lie down.
Try it. Press your hand right above your belly button, down to the muscle. Some of us (ahem, me) might have to press a little more, but you’ll feel it. I don’t know what blood vessel is right there, but it pumps hard enough to move your hand up and down. It’s kind of weird.

You can also put your other hand on your neck and see how the pulses are just a millisecond off of each other. It’s kind of cool, if you’re curious about that sort of thing…

2.) You notice it in your hands.
I’ll never have a thigh gap, but I have a finger gap. Am I pretty yet?

Has my hand always looked like that?

Has my hand always looked like that?

3.) You lose all ability to regulate your body temperature.
Since my teen years, I’ve been someone who is basically always wearing at least two layers of clothing, even in the summer. I guess I just like the layered look (and have a pretty high amount of body shame, but whatever). Now, though, this has a lot more function. I’m freezing when I get home after working out, but I may wake up sweating during the night. I’ve also become someone who doesn’t understand why people walk into her office and comment that she and her officemates are basically sitting in a furnace. And if the A/C is on, I start to wonder if it would be weird for me to be wearing two sweaters and my gloves.

I imagine it’s like a much, much lesser version of being bipolar–but without meds. That being said, I still (and will always) prefer winter to summer. I’m just going to need more sweaters.

4.) If you’re a lady, you become more…um…regular.
I considered not including this one, but this is supposed to be the start of a list of things no one tells you, right? Well, a lot of overweight women don’t menstruate regularly. When some of that weight starts to come off…well, you get the idea.

Okay, talk about normal, healthy body functions = over.

5.) You start to feel more comfortable answering “What if?” with “Let’s find out.”
Two years ago, I never would have considered running, even for a minute at a time. But what if I did? I swore I would never own skinny pants. What if I just tried them on and maybe just got some on to wear with boots? Or, what if I referred to menstrual cycles on my blog? And, of course, the big one–what if I joined an improv class and built some comedy skills?

This might be where you have the urge to congratulate me on the self-confidence to try new things, but let me stop you there. I see this as more the result of thinking, “Hey, I did a thing I thought was impossible (i.e., going thousands of miles)–I wonder what else I can do.”

As you start to test your physical limits and discover what you are capable of, you get curious. And if you’re a lifetime daydreamer like me, you have lots of what-ifs to choose from.

Unfortunately, you can’t test them all. I mean, I don’t really foresee a scenario in which I should find out what would happen if I decided to start parting my hair on the other side or something. Let’s not get crazy.

This journey ain’t over yet, folks. More revelations to come.

Mile 26: I Hereby Dub Thee…

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“Why don’t you say the things
That you said to me yesterday?”
–Destiny’s Child, “Say My Name”

Miles last week: 26
Total miles: 26

When I started my blog, I called it “Randomanda” because it was supposed to be about random things. I didn’t want to commit to a theme (no matter how many websites told me I needed one).

But since starting the Mile Project and regular workouts, the topics have not been so random. I stumbled upon a theme without meaning to. Sometimes, growth happens without intention (and depending on where that growth is, you may need to see a doctor).

For that reason, I hereby present two kind of big (if you’re looking for them) changes to the blog:

1.) The Title.
Since the Mile Project has inadvertently taken over, why not just rename the blog “The Mile Project” and officially add fitness adventures to my nonsensical mutterings and other curious observations?

2.) The URL.
A URL with “randomanda” won’t really work if that’s not the title anymore, so I am now the proud owner of amandastonebarger.com–you know, for branding and whatnot. I guess I should have my own domain for writer-y reasons. The default URL (stonebarky.wordpress.com) still works, but only because I can’t decide if I should change that, too.

The only real content change is that posts may be about any manner of subject (including but not limited to fitness, writing, reflections, theories, television, books, movies, life, etc.), but they will always have a mile count–mainly for cohesion purposes. I’m planning to start thinking about these posts as milestones of my fitness adventures, nonsensical mutterings, and other curious observations.

Hellooooo, second mention of the subtitle.

There will likely be other smaller changes here and there, but I will say that I do not foresee any changes to the background appearance. It’s bright and colorful, and it makes me happy. If it ain’t broke…

Mile 2703: The 2014 Tally

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“No, this ain’t nothin’ new.
The only thing you’ve got is you.”
–The Black Keys, “Year in Review”

Miles in 2014: 2703
Pounds lost in 2014: 62 (98 total!)

Yes, this is the obligatory year-end/new-year post. Welcome.

At the beginning of the year, I posted three resolutions:

  • Write every day.
  • Find a happy place.
  • Do 2,014 miles.

I succeeded at only one of these. I’d tell you which, but I like to keep secrets. I’m mysterious that way.

As it is the start of a new year, the mile count is starting over again. Ah, new beginnings.

Which also means new resolutions. Ah, promises to myself that I will feel guilty about not keeping in fifty-one weeks.

I may not have the best track record with these things–or with challenge goals in general (may I point you to my string of attempted 30-day challenges and NaNoWorkMo?)–but I’m going to keep making them. Call me an optimist. Or delusional. It doesn’t matter. I can’t hear you, anyway. I’m half-deaf, too.

1.) Write every day.
Yeah. We’re trying this again. I may or may not fail again. I may or may not fail better.

2.) No MyFitnessPal on holidays.
You know, like New Year’s, Christmas, my birthday, TV show premiere days, National Green Sweater Day, any time I visit my aunt and cousins, and various other days. There are just some times when it’s not necessary to keep track of your calorie intake. I reserve the right to work out on holidays, though.

3.) Take an improv class.
This is definitely happening, so I might be kind of cheating with this resolution. Maybe the resolution part should be not to chicken out of taking the improv class I’ve already signed up for. I registered right before Christmas and will start in a couple of weeks. This may be terrible. This may be great. I am unsure which.

Wait. That’s kind of what improv is all about, isn’t it? I have a head start!

4.) No more elliptical.
It’s been real, Lipty, but I think I’ve outgrown you. We both know I’ve had a thing on the side with the treadmill for a while. I definitely wouldn’t call it love, but there might be something there. And maybe I want to venture out and try weight machines or yoga or something. I don’t know. I do know that I need to push myself. I’m still just discovering this side of myself. But really, you’ve made me a better person, and for that, I will always be grateful.

5.) Be better.
This is pretty much the crux of every resolution, isn’t it? Still, sometimes it’s nice to explicitly say it. I want to make sure that I put time and energy into being better. A better sister, a better friend, a better daughter, a better aunt, a better niece, a better cousin–just a better human–and, of course, a better writer.

One resolution you might not notice is a number of miles for this year. I’m still going to keep track of the number, but I’ve decided not to set a specific goal for 2015. I think we’ll just see how far we get.

So, 2015. Let’s do this.

Mile 2644: You Are Not the Only One With Crazy

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“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
–Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Miles Last Week: 58
Total Miles: 2644

In the past, I’ve had a friend or two and such apologize to me for some sort of crazy, be it their own or someone else’s. I typically just shrug it off and tell them not to worry about it, but some personal things have happened in the last couple of days that make me want to reiterate the following point bluntly and loudly.

You are not alone in your crazy. You think you are, but you aren’t.

I can hear you telling me that I am wrong–that you, in fact, are the one soul on Earth that no one else could possibly understand because only you know your own personal trauma.

Well, yes and no.

Yes, you may be the only one who knows everything that’s happened to you. No, that doesn’t mean you’re alone.

We all have crazy–every single one of us–but most of us end up feeling isolated because we don’t want to share it or burden others, or we think that no one will understand.

My personal crazy (in my completely subjective, not at all professional opinion) is likely rooted in a lot of warped body image issues, stemming from whatever underlying, deep-seated insecurity, self-hate, depression, or anxiety I’m repressing. I’m also a ruminator, which is pretty much a  four-syllable word for over-thinker. (It would also be a terrible superhero name, but I suppose “The Ruminator” could be a mildly decent super villain.) Actually, rumination tends to involve over-thinking, plus endless dissection of some choice or event, plus obsessive reflection, plus lots of time and optional quantities of junk food.

Have I mentioned emotional eating yet? That’s definitely part of my crazy.

I may not know what your crazy is, but I’m betting it’s taken you to some pretty dark places. Mine has. The following are all things about my crazy that I’ve considered putting on this blog dozens of times, but I always stop because I tell myself that they are too serious. The truth is that I’m absolutely terrified to put these things out into the world. But after the last couple of days, I’ve been forced to acknowledge what a dark place isolation will take you. At the very least, I want people to know that they aren’t the only ones in those cold, muddy trenches.

I suppose the good news is that this is the Internet and no one will probably read this, right?

1.) I remember the first time I realized I was fat.
I was in elementary school. My best friend was at my house, and we started spraying each other with water because that’s what kids do sometimes. Her pants got soaked, so I offered her a pair of mine while hers dried. As she pulled them on, it became clear that they were several sizes too large for her, which she thought hilarious. She laughed and laughed and laughed as she pulled them on and off without undoing the button. I tried to laugh along but was mostly holding my breath and trying not to cry from embarrassment. (Side note: I feel absolutely no ill will toward this person. We remained good friends for a long time. I just remember this as the first time I felt ashamed of how I looked.)

2.) I used to spend a lot of time utterly convinced that my friends hated me because of the way I looked. 
When you’re a teenage girl (or, really, a female human at all), you are required at some point to believe that you are fat and to proclaim it to everyone else so that they know that you know what your physical flaws are. Even my thinnest, most athletic friends would have something negative to say about their bodies. One curled herself into the fetal position while proclaiming, “Look at all my fat rolls! I’m disgusting!” Then, I, a legitimate overweight kid, would look in the mirror. I figured if my friends thought they were fat, then they must have thought I was a whale.

3.) Growing up, I was constantly trying to shrink my stomach.
It really wasn’t that difficult. You would just skip a couple of meals every now and then (maybe one or two a day), your stomach would shrivel up because it wasn’t being filled, and then you couldn’t overeat because your stomach wouldn’t be able to hold too much food. It was obviously a flawless plan to a teenager’s mind, and there were two victories to this system: feeling full without having eaten everything on your lunch plate and the strong belief that you weren’t anorexic because you were technically eating (even though you were still starving yourself). If you did it enough, you would probably even stop feeling hungry–which was the obvious goal. Of course, then you would binge, curse yourself (and worse) for stretching your stomach, and start the whole thing over again.

4.) At seventeen, I tried to buy diet pills.
The cashier wouldn’t sell them to me because I wasn’t eighteen.

5.) I thought I was prepared to be a martyr for my “cause.”
This is probably the darkest thing I can remember. I distinctly recall writing “I will lose weight or die trying” in my journal as an adolescent. I honestly couldn’t tell you whether I truly meant it, but to me, that isn’t necessarily the important part of what happened when I wrote that. I remember feeling a twisted sense of victory at the sentiment. I felt like putting that sentiment into words on a page meant I was truly committed.

I may not know what your crazy is, but I do know that the worst things you can feel are alone and ashamed. No one should ever feel that. Even if you aren’t ready to talk about it, just know that you are not, despite what your head or anyone else may be telling you, alone.

If you do need to talk to someone, please, for the sake of your mental health, do so.