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Gym Lessons Learned

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My gym experience is relatively limited. And by relatively I mean the only gym I frequented was the one located on my university’s campus. Where I grew up I’d need to drive 20 minutes to even get to the gym and that was just not happening. Now that I’m trying to juggle a “big girl” job, grad classes at night, and somehow keep dishes from piling up in the sink my waistline has expanded to a point that I feel like a squishy plush-doll version of me. Therefore, to the gym it is. Here are some things I’ve picked up on my adventures.

All gyms are not created equal.

Picking the right gym is essential. I cannot emphasize this enough. Some questions to ask:

Is this in my budget? If you can’t afford to eat, going to the gym will be pointless because you will either starve or be forced to eat off the $1, which is a bajillion calorie diet. The Y has some great equipment. It may not have fancy glass stall shower doors with prima donna style locker rooms, but it will do the job. Live realistically.

Can you touch things? This sounds weird, but seriously ask yourself if a gym is gross. Note that being old does not equal gross, but you don’t want broken down equipment. Patrons are responsible for wiping down equipment after usage- do people do this? Observe. Do a walk through. Also, look at the showers. Don’t just glance at them and avoid thinking about them. Is there mold? Are people avidly avoiding the area like it’s radioactive?

Will you actually go? Distance is everything, people. Think about when you actually have time to go to the gym. Is it before work, after class, or in the evening? Choose a gym close to your location. Mine is between work and class, which is coincidentally when I normally go. It means I’m going right by it and have no excuse. The guilt will make you go.

At first, everything about showering is awkward.

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The first few times you go to the gym and shower you will probably forget something. Or maybe I’m just a forgetful person who is unaccustomed to showering in various locations.

Can I strip here? But actually. I’ve been to band camp, sleep-away camp, and lived in a sorority house. There are different rules for where you can or cannot strip based upon sensitivities.  Subtly observe where people are changing. Are they changing in the actual showers? Stripping in the middle of the locker room? Different gyms have different cultures. You may not get it right the first time, but try and pick up on the norm. Soon enough you’ll be a regular and feel comfortable with the new routine.

Do I have shower shoes? These are important. They protect you and they also protect other people from you. I forgot shower shoes after a workout and once had to parade around in my socks. You know what’s uncomfortable? Soaked, soapy socks. Invest. They’re all of $5 because you just need something plastic that can be slipped on and off. Plastic is a key word here. Don’t get some cushy material because it’s important that these shoes dry quickly. Otherwise, you have moldy, smelly shoes and that defeats the purpose of showering altogether.

Did this towel shrink? No, it did not. My gym has towel service. It says so on their website (this is a great thing to check for, by the way). It’s nice because I don’t have to schlep a towel back and forth. I also don’t have to worry about it being soggy and gross in my gym bag. On the other hand, it is ridiculously tiny. I have yet to see a gym towel that successfully covers me appropriately (although I dream that I will one day be “gym-towel tiny”). If you’re uncomfortable with being in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny towel, you may want to bring your own.

I hope the things I’ve learned on my gym adventures will serve you well, but I’m sure I missed some. What gym lessons have you learned?

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Enjoy what you read? 
Follow me on Twitter @KeepStride

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The Day I Met Rory (and Jenny Lawson)

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I know, I know. You are all insanely jealous that I met Rory. And by “met” I mean struck a pose in the middle of public DC while my husband tried to suppress his mortification. (Mi dispiace, Topino mio. Keep loving me anyway.) The whole meeting was really a debacle and started with a frantic arrangement of work hours, possible transportation alternatives, and ultimately ended up with us standing outside of Politics and Prose in Washington, DC starvinGardettos-2014g because the cafe was sold out of food. (Disclaimer: Grilled cheese was available but it was $6. I could buy a loaf of bread with half a pound of cheese at those prices.) The only other source of nourishment was CVS, which meant our “dinner” consisted of Gardettos. For those of you that don’t know what Gardettos are….this is a bag of the deliciously addictive snack –>

I’m going to apologize in advance because that one small bag is approximately 1,000 calories. I wish I was joking. Those buggers are responsible for an entire pant size.

So, with dinner in hand, we ventured into the extremely crowded bookshop and purchased a copy of Jenny Lawson’s second novel, Furiously Happy. I’ve been to to a number of readings over the last few years, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been to a reading where there was such camaraderie between an author and her readers. There was fangirling and stories shared, but it felt less like a Q&A and far more like an organic conversation amongst friends. I’m going to chalk this up to Lawson’s incredible personality and the relationships she has developed over the years through her blog, The Bloggess. Even though I had never met her, I felt like I’d spoken with her before through her posts and responses. Which is why my husband stood with me (okay, he stood while I sat on the floor) waiting to meet her in person for approximately 3 hours on a work night. We were in line when we’d normally be in bed.

While waiting to get our book signed we observed an incredible feat by a gentleman that we call the Line Ninja. It’s so impressive that I simply have to share it. He arrived during the Q&A and managed to socialize his way to the middle of the room by the end of the session. Please understand how impressive this feat is. People at the front of the room arrived hours before the reading and the entire store was packed all the way to the exit. An hour before the event my husband and I managed to claim a spot in the middle. This lolligagger mingled his way through other eagerly waiting readers armed only with his charm. By the end of the night he was about a dozen people ahead of me. What do you call that? Talent.

Since we had some time on our hands, my husband and I discussed what I might share with the Bloggess. Eventually I decided on humoring her with the fact that my anxiety companion dog, Maverick, has anxiety. Confident with this little anecdote I approached the table only to say “Hi” and smile. Twas not my finest moment, but a firm nudge from Matt pushed me forward and eventually the words came out in some kind of order. I’m pretty sure I called Maverick a “she,” which would have probably made him duck his little furry nose in shame. However, I did manage to take this awesome picture:

20151012_222750On our way out my husband told me that if he had stood around for over 4 hours only to have me stand there and smile he would have lost his mind. And that, my friends, is true love.

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Enjoy what you read? 
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Reading on the Go!

I started this post a few weeks after my wedding. I thought that I might share a couple of my pre-wedding reads (none of them had anything to do with weddings) and then 4 months passed. Even though that whole concept doesn’t make sense anymore I’m doing it anyway. I’ve also started graduate school (while working full time- my classmate from Germany says I’m crazy), and  I’ve managed to cram a few books in. Basically, everything I read was worth the time. Saying that, I didn’t want to just brush them off and just list them on the 2015 Bookshelf. Here are some short reflections on my reads.

Pre-Wedding Reads:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrAll the Light

I’m making my husband read it. He’s going to read it and he is going to love it. This book was beautiful to read. I’m a huge fan of World War II novels and Doerr did not disappoint. He crafts his book just as the locksmith crafted the neighborhoods for his daughter, with care and attention. While the novel starts off at a leisurely pace, the lives of these strangers begin to collide and the reader will be completely engrossed until the end. Yes, some parts read slow but push through because it really is worth it.

Boss

Bossypants by Tina Fey

This book really helped me get my head on straight before the big day. Tina made me laugh, cry (from laughing), and think (while laughing). The book isn’t so much a continuous memoir as it is a collection of stories. Tina’s thoughts and experiences presented me with a new lens to view my own accomplishments and goals through. Afterwards, I felt a lot more confident about where I am and where I’m heading. Sometimes, you just have to do it.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy KalingMindy

Mindy is as big of a Tina Fey fan as I am. She hilariously compares the two of them throughout her book, but reading them side by side unveiled how different they truly are. Both women are very humorous, resourceful, and intelligent. Mindy’s memoir, however, has a lot more pause for her analysis of a situation. It’s more organized and thoughtfully conceived. While still funny, Mindy has an undertone that makes you take everything with a grain of, what I call, serious salt.

BloggessLet’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

I’m going to see her and it’s going to be incredible. Jokingly, I refer to Jenny Lawson as my spirit animal. Throughout the novel I’d wake up my husband to read him sections. He would nod, respond with, “She’s you!” and promptly return to dreamland. Her perspective is one of a kind. I particularly recommend this to my friends battling chronic illness. It’s not too hard on the brain but is incredibly inspiring and funny. Lawson is a well-known blogger who has her own health struggles. Her humor inspires me to wake up and start fresh. Her second book, Furiously Happy just hit the shelves, so if you love her there’s more to read.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodHandmaid

This is one of those books that I never had assigned in high school and also never came across in college (but should have read independently at some point). Basically, it needed to be checked off my list. After my reading I can definitely see how this would have caused a stir when it was published, and some parts of the story still call forth foreboding feelings. It’s well written and I don’t think it could have ended any other way. The ending was just right and I do recommend taking this novel for a spin. It wasn’t my favorite but it was valuable.

Everything Else:

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, book 1) by Tana French

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My mind was blown. Not only was the case complex and challenging but the perspective was raw with characters and their relationships evolving radically throughout the novel. Part of the stark perspective stemmed from the personality of the first-person narrator who filters the entire experience. Be warned, this novel is very murky and very realistic. The language is also dense and incredibly well-crafted. French’s style is unable to be replicated. It’s not to be picked up for a bit of light reading.

Would you like a summary of my Macroeconomics textbook? Because it’s ruling my life right now and that’s what else I’ve read.

Okay, I lied, I did manage to get in Bardach’s 8 Steps (which I do highly recommend if you’re interested in public policy).

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Enjoy what you read? 
Follow me on Twitter @KeepStride

Popular Posts:

Who Am I?– The painful name change experience

Giving a Voice to Invisible Illness– A short poem read by a number of incredible bloggers

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Other Sites I Recommend:

Abby Has Issues: I have issues, she has issues, and it’s fantastic.

The Bloggess: Great for a laugh and also thoughtful.

Scary Mommy: I’m not a mom yet but that doesn’t even matter.

Spoon Shares: Sometimes our issues are more serious and impact the way we live day-to-day. Spoon shares is a great place to share, connect, and learn tips and tricks from others with a variety of maladies.

4

Who Am I?

You’d think, with its deep historic roots, that changing a woman’s name to her husband’s name would be an easy feat. It is not. In fact, the directions are so convoluted that they may send you to a million different places in the wrong order. Or you might end up at the county courthouse with everyone staring at you, which luckily did not happen to me (thanks to a couple friends who’ve already jumped through the hoops ahead of me). But it almost did, and I don’t want it to happen to you. So here are the basics to changing your name, and (let me warn you right now) if you’re a guy it’s infinitely more difficult. Some couples decide which last name to take on or choose to come up with their own name. If you’re a male trying to change your name go straight for the courthouse paperwork. Alas, I cannot help you until after you get a judge to sign off on it. It stinks. It takes longer. Mi dispiace.

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1. Send off your state marriage license request before your honeymoon. Most businesses give you 30 days to make changes for life events (marriage, birth, death, etc). About half of that time is spent waiting on the red tape paperwork to be processed. If you don’t get that form in ASAP you miiight just miss your deadline.

2. Make sure you have your birth certificate and social security card. If you were born before a certain year and have laminated versions…boy do I have a surprise for you. It’s invalid (even though it doesn’t say “do not laminate”). Request the new documents because you’ll need them. I strongly advise calling a parent to help. It’s easier for your mother to say, ” Yes, I gave birth to him/her/it/an idiot and need a new birth certificate” than scrambling around trying to prove you are you. They’re not very trusting.

3. The Social Security Office is your first stop. You’re going to need the state certified marriage certificate, government ID, and social security card. Just in case, I’d bring your birth certificate as well. Fair warning, social security is never open when you’re available. In fact, they’re open less than 40 hours a week, which is quite unfair because the lines are twice as long as my lunch break. Luckily, I’m magical and Dumbledore cast a spell of darkness upon my office building conveniently on a Wednesday. Or a thunderstorm knocked out the power. It’s debatable. Personally, I’d like to think it was Dumbledore, but I wouldn’t rely on him too much. I’d recommend saving a vacation day or “coming down” with the flu to get everything done at once because once you have a certified form with your new name on it you need to head on over to the DMV!

4. Oh, the DMV! The crying children, the teenage drivers trying to kill you in the parking lot, and the screams of the doomed who waited in line for an hour only to find out they left their proof of insurance at home. Welcome. Every state has a different way they distribute licenses, but you’ll need all the documents from social security plus the social security proof of name change form. I got another horrible picture of me taken and was given a supplementary slip of paper to keep with me until my license came in the mail.

Once everything ever arrives and you’re TERRIFIED of someone breaking into your mail box at any point because your whole identity is in the hands of USPS (who conveniently just discovered an employee hoarding 22,000 pieces of mailIT COULD HAVE BEEN YOURS), you finally have your new name. (side note: where were they keeping all that mail?!?) Your name plate can be changed at work and benefits will recognize the existence of your spouse. Congratulations! Here’s to still receiving mail with your maiden name for the next decade!

Dumbledore

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If Anything Else Breaks…

How I would typically describe my job: Rarely boring or mundane.eow

Now, the fact that I don’t get bored is a major bonus. If there’s one thing that makes me cranky and irritable, it’s boredom. I have a list of things I want to do rather than sit on my ass staring at a white wall for 8 hours, so if I’m at work I want to be doing something. In this respect, my facilities job is absolutely brilliant for my personality. One day is never identical to the next (this isn’t to say we don’t have our down time- I’m pretty sure I could have gone screaming Christmas carols down the hall on Christmas Eve and nobody would have heard me), but it’s still contained in an organized combination of tasks, which I then create lists and spreadsheets for. It really appeals to the crazy organized side of me. Can you say color coding? However, there are days, days when I’d really like to take all of my beautifully organized and labeled folders and CHUCK them at the next thing that breaks. Or the roach I just saw crawl across the floor. But that’s why I write. So I don’t get roach guts on my folders.

The Week of the Urinals: Have you ever had a multi-floor urinal clog? It’s not pretty. Flooding is involved and a lot of cleaning is required. It makes your typical clog look like a walk through the park and suddenly Drain-O just isn’t cutting it. Call in the big guns.

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Code Name Mr. Jingles: There be mice. And roaches. They might be in your kitchen or cubicle. We apologize but alas there’s a bulldozer destroying The Everything outside, so they’re going to come in here. It’s also below freezing, where would you run?

Calling for Comfort: This is a constant struggle but you have 2 options. Would you prefer Dante’s Inferno or the Arctic Tundra. Your choice.

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Cry Me a River: No, really. There’s a river coming from the kitchen down the hallway. I’d recommend lifting your feet and potentially rowing your way to a pal’s office.

The Great Flood: Your wall looks a little wet. That’s because our neighbors upstairs have an overflowing toilet and it’s dripping down the walls. 4 floors worth of them, but don’t worry there won’t be any mold. At least, none that you can see.

Every day is an exciting new adventure and I promise I never laugh at your misfortunes. Okay, maybe I laugh a little bit, but it’s not my fault. Schadenfreude is a real thing.

ul

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