Running Sucks, and Why I Love/Hate It

A Little Backstory

I hate physical activity. This is deeply ingrained in my psychological workings. When I step back and try to isolate the root cause of this hatred, I can uncover several aspects of my personality that probably, when combined, comprise this hatred of physical activity. These include:

  • Being “hot” makes me irritable.
  • Sweating makes me borderline furious. (At what? At everything.)
  • I’d rather be reading.

My lifelong hatred of physical activity resulted in me largely avoiding it. I played softball as a young girl, mostly because I could avoid running if I hit the ball far enough. I was a bowler, for chrissakes.

It probably goes without saying that I was overweight most of my life, and I still am. I have been dieting for as long as I can remember, but only every so often would I exercise in my attempts to lose weight. When it came to losing weight and getting healthy, I almost never stuck with anything, except for the deprivation. For some reason, I’m great at depriving myself of things I want, yet terrible at forcing myself to do what I don’t want to do, like exercise. I tried several different things, even activities I enjoyed more than dreaded, but could never consistently incorporate physical activity into my life.

Why was it I couldn’t stick with physical activity? Perhaps it was time to tap into the same neurons that were committed to my dietary misery and see if I could use them for physical misery. I realized it was time to try something completely unlike anything I had tried before. I became convinced it was time to go so far outside my comfort zone that I was in my over-my-dead-body zone. What activity did I fear and hate more than almost any other physical activity? What activity had I sworn I would never, like, ever give a shot? Running. Continue reading


Buy Less to Have More: My Mission to Stop Buying So Much Crap

Everybody loves a bargain. Everybody: men, women, rich, poor, adults, children. If you feel like you got something and had to give up less than its worth to get it, then you feel pretty dang good.

Some people love bargains more than other people, though. I would say some people have what I will call a “bargain addiction,” because I truly believe the drive, the need, the desperation, and the completely clouded judgment is on par with the kind of behavior you see discussed at an AA meeting. People will do stupid things to get a bargain. People will refuse to do an exchange unless it is a bargain. People will alienate their loved ones in order to get a bargain. And when you think about it like that, it does seem like a bit of a sickness, doesn’t it?

A bargain addict was born

I’m here to admit: I’m a bargain addict. Like many addicts, I come from a long line of addicts. Both my parents are bargain addicts. Their parents were bargain addicts. Friends of the family are bargain addicts. I grew up surrounded by this addiction. Let me give you some examples.

My mother buys anything and everything that catches her fancy, so long as it is a bargain. Her need for the item is irrelevant. Someone will need this skilletSomeone will like this hideous necklace. Someone will appreciate this off-brand, made in China, baby doll as a gift. My entire childhood, she refused to buy me anything that was full price. It didn’t matter if I needed it or wanted it or if the on sale pricetag of item A was in fact more than the retail pricetag of item B — the only item going in our basket was the item on sale. Continue reading

Tidbits #2

My tidbits posts are about things not worthy of their own post, but too lengthy for a Twitter outburst. I don’t know how long I will continue this madness, but I apologize in advance.

  • The Frontera food line
    For those of you who love Mexican food, may I introduce you to the Frontera line? Frontera products are the creation of Chef Rick Bayless, billed as “gourmet” Mexican. I adore Mexican food, but I hate making Mexican from a pouch. Mexican seasonings and sauces are filled with unnecessary crap, and it’s a major turn-off. We usually make our fajita and taco seasonings from scratch, but sometimes we want something a little more complex without investing a lot more time. Frontera makes this possible. The seasoning sauces? Oh. My. God. Amazing. And the ingredients lists are short and recognizable. They are also relatively low calorie. In short, they are everything I had long since given up on finding in convenience foods: no crap, low calorie, and most importantly, delicious. It can be hard to track the products down at your local store, but I have found different stores carry different items. You can also order online.
  • H&M’s clothes recycling program
    When I’m getting rid of my family’s clothes, it usually goes to Goodwill if it’s usable. Sometimes though, there are items that need too much mending or have an unfortunate stain, and those clothes aren’t suitable for donating. But if you’re anything like me, tossing these otherwise good clothes can still make you cringe. Enter H&M’s clothes recycling program. They go through these cast-offs by hand, grade them, and route them as appropriate: to a second-hand store, or to be recycled into a new textile or product. As an extra bonus for being such a good earthling, you also get a 15% off coupon for each bag of donated clothes, currently limited at two. (H&M, for those of you without one in your local mall, is a clothing retailer for men, women, and children. It is very big in Europe as that is where it was founded, but it is spreading in U.S. cities as well.)
  • Fage yogurt
    Greek yogurt has been all the rage for a few years now. Is it here to stay, do you think? Or is it another food fad that will disappear? I hope it’s the former because I love the stuff. I’m sure at this point you have tried one of the many yogurt companies’ Greek offerings. They’re all thick and tart and in some folks’ opinions, mine included, more satisfying than the yogurt we used to eat. For me though, Fage 2% is the best. We cook with it, we mix it with fresh berries and drizzle it with honey, we eat it for breakfast, we eat it for dessert. It’s so decadent in texture, it’s hard to believe that something so appealing isn’t terrible for you. It has become a staple in our household. If you haven’t given the Fage brand a try, I highly recommend you do.

Tanga Panties Will Save Your Ass

Men, cover your eyes.

OK? Good?

Ladies, I’ve got a long history of underwear problems. I cannot seem to find underwear that is invisible, functional, and comfortable, the Holy Trinity of Women’s Underwear.*

Sexy Lingerie by LaggedOnUser

Image by LaggedOnUser.

Bra problems, I’m proud to say, I believe I have conquered, which is a recent development. I finally learned in my 30s that all bra problems can be solved by A) shelling out for the good stuff at a real department store and/or online, and B) by getting regular, professional fittings.

In the panties department, however, my successes have been short-lived. I had been a devout thong wearer for many years, starting in college when I discovered those little angelic triangles and string contraptions at TJMaxx. Through my 20s, I wore only thongs. They were the only panties that I could wear that did not give me the dreaded VPL (Visible panty lines! Come on, ladies.). Thongs went out the window when I got pregnant with my oldest, however, and I just haven’t been able to go back to them. They just aren’t as comfortable as they were pre-baby. It’s very similar to the timeline of my relationship with strappy high-heeled shoes, come to think of it… Continue reading

Tidbits #1

Untitled by Ryan Dickey

Image by Ryan Dickey.

Sometimes I need to say something that is too long for Twitter, but too short for here. I think it’s best if I try to save those tidbits up and post them periodically. So here you go, my first ever tidbits — and they’re zero calorie!

  • The Soldier Thread
    Do you ever use Spotify to find new artists? You should! I normally find my new tunes via the “Related Artists” section of each artist’s profile, but I’ve also come across new material using their Radio feature. In this case, I cannot really re-trace my steps to figure out how I heard about them, but I have been a tad obsessed with a band called The Soldier Thread these past few weeks. Naturally, they had already broken up by the time I discovered them. Check them out on Spotify. If you only give one song a chance, go for “Anybody” or “Matador.”
  • Haim
    Pronounced HI-em, almost like l’chaim. Another band I’ve fallen in love with. My love affair with this ’80s-esque band has been ongoing for a few months now, but they’re so great, I want to tell everyone about them. They are three sisters and all their songs are perfect and have a distinct sound that I cannot put my finger on. I rarely find artists who consistently turn out music I love, but Haim is one of them. Check out their song Forever on Spotify.
  • Love it or List It and Rehab Addict
    Do you watch HGTV? If you answered no and you are anything other than a heterosexual male, what is your problem? You are missing out! Even if you are a heterosexual male, as my husband can attest, you are still missing out. Our newest HGTV loves are the shows Love it or List It and Rehab Addict. The first show is about people who’ve outgrown or tired of their homes. One host uses whatever budget they have to bring their current home up to snuff, while the other host tries to find them a new home that ticks off all their boxes. It’s great because it really nails the “do I stay or do I go now?” situation that homeowners find themselves in when their home isn’t cutting it anymore. It’s interesting to see how any costs and heartache you suffer in order to move might be better spent on upgrading your current home. The second show features Nicole Curtis, a single mom and general construction wizard, who flips homes. She focuses on old homes and she has a great eye. It’s inspiring to watch, even if you don’t like older American architecture and design.

Reflections on a Trip with the In-Laws

Relationships with in-laws can be challenging. On one hand, they’re just other adults. On the other hand, they’re family. It’s a bit of a balancing act of strangeness and familiarity, distance and closeness, and it’s a balancing act I haven’t quite mastered. I know some people don’t have to waste time contemplating the nature of relationships with in-laws, and good for them. Not all of us married into such splendid familial symbiosis, hence 20% of stand-up comedy and airlines allowing unaccompanied minors to fly between family members. Continue reading

Chronology of a Picky Eater

Despite very much wanting to eat and enjoy all kinds of food, I was cursed with taste buds that hated almost everything while growing up. I did slowly grow out of it, as chronicled below, but I can’t help but wonder if those many years of pickiness aren’t part of why I love so many different foods now. Now the list of foods I dislike is very small, and the dislikes are really more matters of preference than genuine revulsion and possible vomiting.

Mother Nature, of course, has provided me with picky children of my own, which I feel prepared to deal with but also incredibly guilty for giving in to. I know firsthand that any attempt to win the food battle is futile. As far as I’m concerned, picky eaters can’t help it.  Adult picky eaters on the other hand, I find to be insufferable.

And now I must outline and reflect on my own timeline of culinary ridiculousness so that I might bear in mind the kind of child I was when I am dealing with my own offspring. Continue reading

Salt and Pepper on Salad: Who Knew?

This is the first post I am writing in the category “Public Service Announcements.” I should apologize in advance for these types of posts. I fancy myself to be the kind of person who has helpful things to say about topics people want to learn more about. I imagine a lot of bloggers fit this description, actually. The truth is I am not an expert or authority on…well, anything. But I’m a human with experiences and ideas, so CAN’T YOU JUST LOVE ME?

I want to share a little salad tip with you, because every time I share this tip with anyone, it is always the first time they’ve heard it. I’ve even gotten “This is the best salad I’ve ever had,” from several people, so you should take this tip very, very seriously. Are you ready for it?

Put salt and pepper on your salads.

Bam!* Crazy, right? I bet you didn’t see that coming. Unless you read the title of the post, in which case, you totally saw that coming.

Don’t Fear the Salt Shaker

To use the foodie parlance of our time, you should always “season” your food. I think most people forget that crucial element of cooking and food prep, which is why most people are so often disappointed with their home cooking efforts. If you find you don’t use salt and pepper a lot when cooking, you could probably stand to kick things up a notch,* especially if you find your dishes boring or bland.

If you are concerned with your sodium intake, don’t be, unless A) your doctor is concerned about your sodium intake, or B) you generally eat a lot of processed foods. If most of your meals are home cooked from whole foods, chances are you would find it difficult to over-salt yourself. Michael Ruhlman, chef and author, has written some good pieces about this topic, like this one:

Salt & Pepper Shakers by Sean McMenemy

Image by Sean McMenemy

Eating Salads Doesn’t Need to Be a Punishment

Even if you are a proud season-er, I have found that most people don’t think to season salads because it seems a tad strange for some reason. Why is it strange, I wonder? Is it because salad is eaten at cool temperatures? Is it because there’s dressing on there? I don’t know.

I do know, however, that using salt and pepper on your salads will not only elevate them taste-wise, but it will also allow you to use less salad dressing. If you’re trying to lose or maintain weight — as so many committed salad-eaters are — that’s an extra bonus.

So be sure to remember the salt and pepper next time you’re whipping up a salad. You’ll wow yourself or your guests and you might find yourself eating more of the good stuff.

* Emeril, please do not sue me.

In Which I Declare My Allegiance

There’s no polite way to say this. No way to break it to you gently. So I’ll just come out and say it.

I am a liberal.

I struggle with my political identity a lot, not because I am uncomfortable with who I am, but because so many people I know are uncomfortable with liberals. Like, say, my entire hometown, 99.9% of my family, and a smattering of people I consider friends. Because I know so many people whose blood boil at the mere mention of the word “Obama,” because so many of these people are perfectly fine making race jokes and launching into conservative tirades in mixed company, I’ve learned it was best if I just keep my mouth shut. Safe. Civil. Pleasant.

I’m betting a fair number of people in my life don’t even know where my political convictions lie, truth be told. And because I feel great anxiety about the confrontation I believe will follow any honesty and openness on my part, I almost prefer to keep it that way.

However, being put in the position of having to bite my tongue every day, having to politely omit, dodge, or self-edit when conversing with others, it just got too ridiculous. And difficult. Exhausting. It makes me feel dirty and diminished.

In my internet travels today, I came across this article — in a liberal publication! — about attracting the right people in your life. In sum, the author recommends being 100% true to yourself and allowing those who can’t handle it to naturally fall away. It resonated with me. I’m not sure exactly what the author would advise when it comes to allowing yourself to alienate your entire family or the entire foreign country you currently reside in (much more on this later, I assure you), which is the situation I find my own self in, but I appreciated the piece nonetheless.

It brought to mind one of my favorite quotes, which is apparently misattributed to Dr. Seuss (my whole life is a lie!), but still rings true and probably looks good cross-stitched on a pillow:

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Anyway, I wanted to confess this to you, my dark liberal motivations, because I hope you can still find it in your heart to like me, despite my misguided and poorly informed politics. I will try to keep my unrestrained rants to a minimum. And you do so as well, OK? Unless you’re on my side, in which case, let ‘er rip.