You give me fever...

Last week I wrote about how my life had become a series of drinking events and how I wanted to get a little more variety added in to the mix.  I should have specified "healthy variety."  Because the universe has one helluva sense of humor.

I had a 101º-102º fever Saturday (didn't get to go to ShamrockFest), Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and my fever finally broke on Thursday -- just in time for my lovely house guest -- @HalfofJess (check out her blog) (who like all pandas, was brave in the face of danger)!

(1) In my 31 years on this world, this is the first time I've ever had the flu.

(2) I've never had the flu shot -- and I don't necessarily believe that as an otherwise healthy adult that I should be getting one.  But look, here's some info on the efficacy of this year's shot.

(3) Holy hell.  It felt like my eyeballs were boiling at one point.  For 5 days all I had in terms of calories was Gatorade (mmmhmm orange) and Toaster Strudels.  Don't judge.

(4) I'm still not 100%.  My stomach/digestive system is still a little behind in rebooting itself. But otherwise, I'm feeling much more human than I did a few days ago.

(5) I wonder if my immune system was just compromised because of surgery and then the mysterious skin issue (I have yet to go to an allergist...and yes, Riley, I will be doing that soon).

(6) Between mysterious skin issue and the flu now, and surgery rehab, I've missed 3-4 weeks of running, which means I have 1 week to run 39 miles.  I've done it before, but I don't think it'd be prudent to stress my body to hit an arbitrary goal.  That would be entirely contrary to the GoTheDist 2013 theme of "Rebuild Yourself" -- to not let my body recuperate from a nasty virus.

So it's Friday night -- Jess is going out with friends and I'm going to curl up with a good book, or three, and just try to get my energy up.  Because tomorrow I'm experiencing another blogger influx in the form of a Tweedie

To drink or not to drink, that is the question....

My week...
Monday:  After running 5 miles at the gym and doing some upper and lower body weights, I got a text from my friend around 7pm.  My friends had an extra ticket to see Dropkick Murphys at the 9:30 Club -- did I want to go? Heck yeah!  I shoved 4 leftover oven-roasted cracked black pepper chicken wings in my mouth and was there by 8.  I had two beers, which is showing a great deal of restraint considering it's an effing Irish band.

Tuesday:  4 miles at the gym, no weights.  [Colleague] couldn't make it to a hockey game with potential client, he gave the tickets to his assistant/my friend and she asked if I'd go with her.   Did I want to go?  Heck yeah! Beers consumed:  5.  My dinner was a delicious mess of chili mac from the Hard Times Cafe vendor.  Though I burned 3264 calories yesterday, I would consider the day as a whole a flop because of the massive pile of carbs and cheese that I inhaled.

Wednesday:  Hoping for a good run at the gym, do some ab and tricep work.  Amazingly, nothing planned tonight.  Will go home, clean up after the whirlwind that tore through my apartment the past few days.

ThursdayDouble Booked!! I'm in charge of hosting a retirement cocktail hour for a colleague.  On the menu: Old Bay spiced corn fried calamari with gribiche sauce; fries with truffle aioli; mini croque monsieur; beef sliders on mini brioche; mushroom, herb, fontina focaccia squares; tuna carpaccio BLT; bacon-wrapped scallops; chicken portabella turnovers.  Oh, and the cake? Chocolate cake, chocolate mousse filling, chocolate ganache on top.  And an open bar.

And then.... dinner with @MerbearMN (blog here) and @Mazzie (blog here) at Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons in DC.  Take a peek at the menu.  I gained 5 pounds reading it. I will be eating something delicious with something delicious in a wine glass to go with it.

Friday:  One of my closest friends' birthdays is this week, and he decided to celebrate both on his birthday (yesterday) and Friday.  He graciously didn't give me crap for going to the hockey game (though I did stop by the bar where the gathering was (it was on my walking route to the game) to wish him a happy birthday and to give him cupcakes he was supposed to have eaten 3 weeks ago, but that have been living in my freezer).  I'm going to try and be on my very best behavior and stick to seltzer water. 

Saturday:  ShamrockFest.  The weather is supposed to be rainy but warm.  This might put a damper on my willingness to spend all day at an outdoor music festival with a bunch of drunk and rowdy people. But there's going to be good music and food there.  And well, I do not like using Port-a-Potties.  That in-and-of-itself is a very good reason not to drink. So I'm going to focus on the music, the dancing, the fun and not drinking.  Feel free to tweet at me and hold me to my promise.

The thing is this -- I really do agree with Alton Brown's 4-Lists, and that alcohol is a 1-time a week indulgence: 
This just happens to be a confluence planned and unplanned social events where alcohol is an omnipresent option.

In the past, I have given up alcohol for a few reasons:  (1) because of the medications that I was taking for my back issues (2) in solidarity (3) because of the negative impact it had on my body and workouts (4) I realized that I didn't need to drink to have fun and (5) I realized that I'd rather have quality over quantity most of the time.  In the past, I have also written about alcohol.

Alcoholism/addictive issues runs through the bloodlines on both sides of my family tree.  I used to be a bartender at an Irish Bar in Brooklyn (my dad helped get me the job because I told him that I wanted a skill that would guarantee employment anywhere I landed after college).  I have seen alcoholism up close and personal.  I know that it's not something that I want for myself or my body.

I also know how alcohol impacts my weightloss/health gain and vice versa.  On days where I have exercised, I feel the effects of alcohol much faster.  If I continue to drink, I am less likely to exercise the next day.  This is the main reason that I didn't drink on Friday nights when I was boxing -- burpees are terrible when hungover.

Sunday:  back to 1 drink a week, but probably after I give my poor liver a break for a week or two...maybe a month.

Gift Wrap, Part II

A long, long time ago, I wrote about "gift wrap": 
So that's the backstory.  What I wanted to write about was gift wrap.  You know when you get someone a gift that you're especially proud of (b/c you know they'll love it and it's just perfect)?  You don't just hand it to them in the bag it came in, but you take the proper time and effort to wrap it nicely, in beautiful paper and maybe a few ribbons.

Well that's exactly how I feel about myself now.  I find myself wearing less black.  I find myself getting frustrated with pants that are too big.  I am wearing more color.  I am buying myself pretty, delicate things with flowers printed on them.  I'm showing off a little here and there (especially my arms).  I'm not skimping on buying things of low quality, or that hide my body in a tent.  I make sure i get pedicures and that my skin is moisturized.  I have almost stopped my obsessive skin picking (or at least greatly reduced it--and that's another mom vs. my body story to tell another day).

In Hamlet, Polonius says "For the apparel oft proclaims the man."  I hope the world is taking notice of what I'm proclaiming.  I hope it translates to "I take good care of myself.  I won't let you treat me badly."

I am gift wrapping myself for the world. And yes, it's because I love myself and I'm my own imperfect perfection.
Yesterday, I had the occasion to put that into practice:

(Dress) (Jacket)
It's so rewarding to be able to put on a dress (size L) and have it fit (that never happens with my boobs).  I never got to be the trendy teenager or even college student.  So it's fun to bring some whimsy into my life at this point.

I'm wearing this dress to work today with the jacket, leggins, and knee-high boots.  If 16 year-old Robby could see me now!

War! What is it good for!? Absolutely nothing. Sing it again.

A few weeks ago, my friend Karen (@KCLAnderson) posted an article about the "thigh gap" obsession among young women. My reaction? I posted this photo and caption to my FGvW Facebook:

I will never have a "thigh gap."
I will also never have a complex amount having a thigh gap.
*gasps* who knew a person whose thighs touched could be so happy, healthy, and strong?

The only reason I could feel this way was because I had read a book about Crystal Renn, a model who had gone from super skinny and sick to "plus size" and happy (and then back down again, but not as severely).  She and I are both 5'9" and she had to whither away to 98 lbs before her thigh gap appeared.  I decided then and there that this "goal" was (1) unrealistic (2) artificially created in my head and (3) unhealthy.  I would never put my overall health at risk for an aesthetic goal.  In this case, I'd just have to stock up on BodyGlide.

It's our fault, though.

If you've been following me for any amount of time, you know that I often talk about body image and how we've surrendered to the external voices telling us how we should look and be.  Our internal voice has been muted to the point we begin to espouse all these bizarre standards that other people (media, fashion, fitness world, doctors) say we should be aiming for.  We forget that our bodies should be as diverse and strong as our personalities. 

As a society, we've let other people tell us what is fashionable (designers, models, magazine editors), what is considered beautiful (artists), or even what is considered healthy (ahem, USDA and FDA, I'm looking at you).  We've relied on the expertise (?) of other people who claim to be more "in the know" or more educated.  The result is we've done horrible things to our bodies (foot binding, extreme corseting, flattening our heads, stretching our necks) that go beyond aesthetics and lasting effects on our health and wellbeing.  It's easy to look at those examples and think "that's crazy and extreme" all the while completely ignoring some of the things considered "normal" and "healthy" in this current society.  One day, future generations will laugh at us because we thought it was fashionable to starve ourselves to the point our thighs didn't touch, or to get an operation that would take care of that for us. 

I titled this post "War! What is it good for!? Absolutely nothing.  Sing it again." because we (men and women) seem to be at war with our minds and our bodies.  We see our minds/bodies as something that need to be controlled and subjugated.  I don't think a single person (even myself) is immune to this way of thinking (whether it be pervasive or in passing).  "Diet" is no longer what we chew in order to survive, but it's how we think and feel about what we put into our mouth.  "Exercise" is no longer about expressing the brilliance of our bodies, but more so about what we need to overcome in order to be what we want to become.  "Wellness" isn't about the joy we reap and sow, but the weeds we've pulled.  The war is about how we see ourselves in negative terms.  

There are so many people in my life -- blogs, Twitter, "in real life" -- who have achieved such great mental, physical, and emotional strength feats, and yet they are still at war with their bodies and their perceptions of themselves.  They are never satisfied with where they are (Point A) because they think they need to be somewhere else (Point B).  So I ask, "what is it good for?"   

What good is any of this if the result isn't an abundance of love for our bodies and joy in our life in this moment

What good is any of this if we don't feel satisfaction and appreciation for who we are and what we look like at this moment, even if it's imperfect according to other peoples' standards? 

Because folks, in my humble opinion, the way to win the war is to give your inner voice a megaphone, a soapbox, and one clear message... 
Original photo, Getty Images.
Decide to end the war.  Stick up for yourself.  See the beauty of what it means to be you at this very moment.  Celebrate it.  Embrace it.  Shout it from the mountain tops.  But more importantly, believe it.

Because if you truly believe that you're absolutely wonderful and complete in this moment, you silence all those external voices that want to think you're not enough, that want you to buy into their version of beauty and health, that want to hold you and your life hostage.

And sometimes you'll think to yourself "well, I'm not who I want to be" -- and that's okay.  I go through that all the time.  My only advice about that is to zero in on the motivation behind that statement.  For me, I'm not who I want to be because the things I want to change represent a great sadness in my life.  And I'm not sad anymore.  I want my mind and body to reflect my joyful heart.