The Smallest Winner

I know I’m behind with this post, but my DVR was backed up, the show was 2 hours long, and the Olympics have been on. Anyway, I just watched The Biggest Loser finale, and FEELINGS:

I do not consider myself skinny.  I have a weird body shape that will never give me a feminine waist, rowing for 6 years made my back broad, one shoulder higher and one calf significantly larger, and I have the upper-arm strength of a ball of cotton.  I am constantly self-conscious about my size and shape. Yes, I’m active, I run and bike and take the stairs and I prefer to walk a mile instead of taking the subway 1 stop. Most days I feel good, but that doesn’t mean I’m always happy with what I see in the mirror.

When I watch The Biggest Loser (a guilty pleasure of mine), I often go from seeing people who start much bigger than I am, to looking much like me.  They don’t end the series looking like society’s notion of “perfect,” is what I mean.  Except this time, Rachel did.  And I have some mixed feelings about that:

Firstly, why didn’t anyone notice that Bobby was also SUPER skinny?  170lbs is pretty small for a guy who is 6’3. I thought he looked gaunt, his face had totally changed shape.  But everyone said how great he looked – Jillian and Bob didn’t look negatively stunned to see him.  Did we not freak out because he didn’t win? Or because he’s a man?

Secondly, before I saw the finale, I read around that Rachel was “skeletal.”  Actually, what she is, basically, is Hollywood Thin. I’m not saying that Hollywood Thin is healthy (because it’s not), but let’s keep that in mind here. She is no smaller than any of the stars you see on the silver screen — with the exception maybe of Jennifer Lawrence (who demands your attraction but refuses to be Hollywood Thin, and it’s not impossible to tell that she’s sticking to her guns. AND SHE IS STILL VERY VERY THIN).

Mostly, what I’m interested in, after all this, is what television does to our minds.  Women in particular, really.  Women that I see on TV who are my size seem to look bigger than I am.  Are we just so used to Hollywood Thin that any lady over 110 lbs looks fat on TV?  If I saw them in person, would they look more like me and my friends? I think this is where the crux of the discussion sits – the obscene standards that society holds women up to (and let’s face it, that women hold themselves and each other up to too).  I mean, the host of the show, Alison Sweeney, is so compelling because she isn’t super thin, and has struggled with weight publicly. Except, according to her Wikipedia page, the biggest she got was a size 12.  If you’re not aware, SIZE TWELVE IS NOT BIG. But when you look at her on TV even now, you don’t say to yourself, “man, I wish I looked like Allie.”  Instead there is a part of your brain that goes, “Ehh, I’d rather look like Natalie Portman.”  That part of your brain is an asshole, but it won’t shut up.

I feel like size standards for women is a topic that has been beaten to death by so many women on the internet over and over and over. It’s terrible, it’s horrible, we have to change it.  We want untouched photos. We have to teach our children differently.  And yet, when I look in the mirror, I still think “ugh. my flabby arm fat. gross.”  WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES? I know it’s ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean I can control my brain.

Is it too late for some of us? Can we still change how we see ourselves?

A side-note: A financially-driven competition to lose weight was eventually going to get out of hand. We should have all known that.  Someone, at some point, was going to lose more weight than they needed to, because they wanted to win.  Often we see contestants who are physically ready to leave the show stay to “win.” The Biggest Loser does a pretty good job about pushing the importance of strength and endurance over size, but it’s not perfect.  I mean, it’s still a numbers-based game.  And it’s a big deal to make it to “make-over” week. A BIG DEAL.

Of course, at some levels, having confidence in your body IS important.  I love that during make-over week, Tim Gunn is super proactive about saying how great they look AT THAT MOMENT (not projecting how they’ll feel “at the end”), and asking contestants how they feel about themselves.  But Tim Gunn is one small cog in the Biggest Loser wheel.

And at the end of the episode, you hear every contestant say, “my time here isn’t done yet.”

I know it’s been a while, but this is important

I may not be of the professional variety, but I like to consider myself an athlete. I take good care of myself, I spend a lot of time at the gym, and I keep up with sports events. I’m loving all this olympic coverage, even if I already saw the results on facebook. I willingly shell out money for Syracuse Basketball tickets and I love to watch the Sox play in the summer. I think sports are awesome, as a participant and an observer, is what I’m saying. Sometimes it would be nice to see the focus on strength for health purposes, but that’s an argument for a different post.

Before I get on my soap-box, I want to point out: I didn’t grow up in a place where friday night was all about high school football games, where athletes were allowed to sneak by academically so they could play in The Big Game – the popular kids played soccer and lacrosse, and they sat next to me in calculus and actually understood what the teacher was talking about (ahem, I did not). They might have had looks and money, but they weren’t dumb. I also currently happen to live in a very educated, intelligent city. Some of the nations best universities are in my backyard, and a lot of their graduates stick around to help the community. I have friends who are bilingual, mixed-race, immigrants, gay – and my parents would be thrilled if I brought them all over for dinner. What I’m saying is that maybe I’m lucky and I get to live in a bubble.

But seriously – do people really still worry about gay men in the locker room? The locker room is “a man’s world?” This is a thing? How is this really an issue? GAY MEN ARE STILL ADULTS, PEOPLE, and they’re also STILL MEN. How can you even use that as an argument for not drafting a very talented young athlete — because you’re worried about the locker room?? You’re not drafting a 7-yr. old who says “you show me yours I’ll show you mine.” He just wants to put on his gear and get pumped for the game, just like the rest of you.

Don’t you, Anonymous NFL person, go to the gym? I bet you do. You’ve been in the locker room with gay men for years, I’ll have you know. You just don’t like to be forced to think about it.

Even many of the players think this is a non-issue. The glowing support on twitter brought some warmth to my heart. Isn’t it their locker room that you’re so worried about? Do they not get a say in the “chemistry” that exists in there?

Maybe this says a lot about where I grew up and how insulated my happy bubble of equality is, but let me tell you about a Social Studies class in high school. We were discussing how we would feel about a gay coach for our theoretical child’s sports team. The issue of possible pedophilia came up and one girl raised her hand and said, “being gay doesn’t make you a pedophile.” My friend sitting next to me chimed in with “being straight doesn’t mean you aren’t, either.” (For the record, those were two 17yr. old girls who, 12 years ago, were still smarter than you are today, Anonymous NFL person.)

Fear can do a lot of real things to a lot of people, but being afraid of what a gay man might do to you in a locker room is ridiculous. If it’s the added element of possible molestation that you’re so afraid of, being in a room of straight men is as “unsafe” as a room of gay ones. Maybe think about that.

Now, there is of course a few other possibilities (both ridiculous, btw):

  1. The fear is that players don’t want other players looking at them “in that certain way.” Well to that I say, BE A WOMAN FOR A DAY ASSHOLE.  You have no argument.
  2. There are a lot of “calling you gay is an insult to your manhood ha-ha-ha jokes” going on in the locker rooms, and this new guy will make everyone uncomfortable – especially those who don’t want to have their 1st Amendment Rights infringed on.  To that I say, it’s about damn time you SHUT THE FUCK UP.  You’re not actually fostering the brotherhood you think you are — the trust and reliance that team sports rely on.  You’re most likely pushing the closeted guys into feeling like they don’t belong, that they can’t really be who they are around you (duh, there are closeted guys whether you think so or not).  Maybe it’s time for you to realize that it’s not ok to throw around such ignorant language.  Maybe it’s ok for you to understand that your “jokes” aren’t as funny as you think.

I have a feeling that the people who think the locker room is an issue are the same people who hated that Coke commercial — they think we all speak American and they don’t remember that their recent ancestors came here on a boat with only hope – no money, no citizenship and no English skills. If you’re one of those people, you probably don’t know it, but you were once hated and ostracized too. Swing on by, I have a good story to tell you.

Sidenote: I am in love with this. VALID POINT SIR. VALID POINT.

Yoga is a Drug? … or Something?

One of the most devastating things to my very rigid work out routine happened to me in the spring — my small trusted gym with excellent classes and instructors I love got bought out by a bigger, less-trusted obnoxious massive super-gym. Don’t get me wrong, being a member of the super gym is great because it offers more than one location, weekend classes, and a lot more accessibility. For a while after the buy-out, they kept the small gym running under the new SuperGym name. I could keep all my routines but expand! I was very happy.

But then, a few months in, we got word that instead of just making my trusted gym a “new location,” they were shutting it down. Nothing was being canceled per se, but they took to moving all the classes around to other locations, making the old gym instructors and classes fit into different locations that already had a full set of classes.

Luckily, I’ve been able to follow most of my beloved instructors to various classes at new locations. Some classes are easier to get to than others and the times aren’t super ideal, but I like to think that I’m making it work. I’m not a fan of the massive crowds, but I’m getting used to it.

The really rough change was to my Tuesday night yoga class. That instructor was going to the SuperGym location at Fenway, which is more out of my way than most things in life. The class time was also changing, solidifying my inability to attend (ps – why do gyms do that? I know there is a small group of people who can attend a class at 3pm on a Tuesday, but I don’t know any of them). The last Tuesday night yoga class at the old gym, I was trying to tell the instructor how much she and the class meant to me, how it had really almost saved my life, and it brought up a lot of emotions that yoga has helped me deal with. I’ve ventured to other yoga in my years, and no one instructor has been as understanding, open, nonjudgemental and helpful as she has been. I go to yoga to help with stress and anxiety, so I was really lucky to find someone like her.

Anyway, since July, I have just not been going to yoga. Initially I was like, “well, you’ll find another class for tuesday, you’ll be fine.” One of the new SuperGym locations actually has a really nice spin class, which I’ve been delighted to attend. But slowly, I began to realize that my migraines were coming back. My hips were sore. My anxiety was making me struggle to breath sometimes. I didn’t realize it, but my body had become accustomed, perhaps even addicted, to the calm relaxation yoga forces on it. I NEEDED yoga.

Then, like some miracle, HR messaged the whole company about the upcoming session of yoga classes they’ve been offering for years, in the gym in my office building. An instructor from the a local yoga studio comes in once a week, and my company picks up a part of the tab so that each class is only $8 if you sign up for the whole 10-week session. Plus, they let you try the 1st class free-of-charge before committing. And all I had to do to get there is take the elevator to the lobby. AND — TADA! It’s offered on Monday nights, which is incidentally the one night I have not been able to find a good class at any of the SuperGym locations.

So I enrolled, a little hesitant about the instructor but open to giving it a shot. I’ve found that instructors who teach yoga out of a studio instead of in a gym can be a little … snotty? is that the right word? Maybe it’s pretentious. You know what I mean, they’re YOGA PEOPLE.

Let me tell you, I was DELIGHTED. It’s a small class, and the instructor is warm and friendly, and she asked me all about how often I practice, what else I do, and any injuries I have. I told her I had to go to PT last winter for tendonitis in my shoulder and that it still aches sometimes, and then she CATERED THE CLASS to my bum shoulder. WHAT.

Next Monday will be class #3, and I’m already worried about what I’ll do when the 10 classes are over. But for now, THANK GOD.

Subway Honesty, With Some Vomit

Yesterday I got on the T to go home much later than usual after taking a yoga class (a new one! I’ll explain later).  As I boarded a car, I noticed it was weirdly crowded for 7pm, but a few doors down in the same car, there seemed to be no one.  So, obviously, I walked toward the empty side of the car, looking for a seat.  

Then I noticed WHY that side of the car was empty – someone had vomitted all over the floor at the end of the car. Gross.  BUT.

Vomit on the subway is not totally unheard of.  TMI, I myself have been caught in a drunk moment and have left a little bit of my dinner behind.  I have seen others lose their lunch.  It’s part of the deal of public transportation, I suppose.  

So I found a seat in the crowded part of the car and opened my book, hoping that the smell wouldn’t be too bad on the ride home.

What WAS crazy to me, since you’re asking, was the sheer volume of people WHO DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE. Earbuds in, faces in their phones or books, or simply trying to not look in any general direction at all — so many commuters do not pay attention to their surroundings. One poor girl walked right through it, even as a kind commuter tried to, very loudly I might add, inform her of what was ahead.

And you guys, that commuter trying to warn people? BETTER THAN ME.  Every stop 10 people would walk on, at least 9 of them would not be paying any attention to where they were going, and this nice dude in a suit goes, “watch out! don’t sit there! wait no DONT DO IT!”  EVERY STOP!

Where was I, you ask? Nose in my book, earbuds in, iPod on, trying really hard to avoid all eye contact…

Because you see, as appalled as I was about these people not paying attention, I know I do it too. I’ve been known to be so engrossed in a book that I will keep reading it after I get off the train, walking to wherever I’m going.  And it’s also commuter-polite. There is an unspoken rule of commuter subway travel, and it’s “shut the fuck up asshole.” You keep your head down, you ignore your surroundings, your put your iPod in and pretend the world is not here.

My theory is that this is a behavior that only public transit commuters will understand – this intentional complete lack of awareness.  We don’t have the luxury of making the trip to and from work with any semblance of privacy. We have have to be in the most public of all public spaces while we’re perhaps our most vulnerable.

When you think about it, the work commute is a very emotional one.  In the mornings you’re tired and probably not fully awake, very stressed about a meeting or working with that asshole who hates you, and it requires a lot of fortitude to gather yourself and head in for the day.  Instead, you travel with everyone and their mother, on a train that may or may not make your day an utter disaster before 8am.  

At night you’re exhausted, probably starving, worried about what the cat did while you were gone, still mad at that author who treats you like drit, and life has been all together too hard.  You need to sob your eyes out and sing Celine Dion at the top of your lungs and instead the only open seat is next to that man who sells the Spare Change newspaper in Porter and is he staring at your chest? What is that smell? WHY IS THE TRAIN NOT MOVING.

I will admit that I love someone else driving me to work.  I get to read and there is no traffic and I don’t have to park.  These are all wonderful things.  But sometimes, a little privacy might be ok.

Traveling ruins things

Last weekend I hopped on a plane and flew to Buffalo to visit some friends and surprised my college roommate for her 30th birthday. We drank wine, we ate chicken wings, we caught up on each other’s lives without the use of facebook. All in all, a great weekend.

But that’s not what this is about.

Although I do it frequently and I know I’m very lucky that I have the funds to support my desire to see friends and family who live far away, travel is always pretty hard for me. The airlines are evil empires, the airport crowds are nightmarish, the air in the terminals and planes is stale and vomit-inducing, and I can never fit all the liquids I need into that tiny quart baggie.  But that’s not even what’s so hard for me.

Travel heavily disrupts my routines, and people, I LOVE my routines.  The quiet morning time with a book on the subway, the same simple oatmeal with walnuts for breakfast everyday, the constant water bottle on my desk, the scheduled snacks and well-balanced meals, the workouts. These are all things that my body craves, and travel fucks it all up.  When you travel, you don’t drink nearly enough water, because where are we going, what are we doing? where is the next public restroom?  Even my sleep schedule is usually very off.  And a dehydrated Megan who drank too much, slept for 4 hours and then didn’t get any protein for breakfast?  She is not a pleasant person.

There is also constant added element of, “will I be able to squeeze in a run?  Should I pack my things? Do I know the area, can I map out a run? Do I even have room to pack my running gear??”  The worst part is when you do pack your gear and then you don’t get a chance to get out.  You carry all that extra baggage around for no reason!  Part of me likes to pack all the gear, because then I can tell myself, GODDAMMIT YOU PACKED IT AND CARRIED IT. PUT THE GOD DAMN SNEAKERS ON, but even that isn’t a full-proof plan. I had a week-long work trip to take in September, and I was all set to run.  I had my sneakers, plenty of sports bras, and my ipod was full of juice.  But then I got there, and the meetings were scheduled to start at 7am and go through to post-dinner drinks every night, there were no street lights on the remote coastal hotel grounds, and there was no accessible gym. Sure, I could run pre-dawn, but the hotel staffed warned me to watch out for crocodiles and giant spiders that thrive in the darkness. WHAT.

The other challenging element is if you’re traveling with or to people who just don’t understand your lifestyle.  It’s hard to get yourself up and go on a run in the first place — it’s even harder when you’re visiting a person who goes, “why would you want to run? it’s cold/wet/hot/beautiful out, let’s do XYZ instead!”  Well when you put it that way, I guess I don’t HAVE to….

What is most obnoxious about the whole thing is the fall-out.  The adventure skews my routine so much that getting back into the habit is nearly impossible once I’m home from my trip.  I’ve been home from Buffalo for 7 days now, and I haven’t run since.

It probably didn’t help that I dreamt I was running a 1/2 marathon last night, so when my alarm went off I literally told myself, you just ran 13 miles, you deserve to snooze.

ZZZZzzzz … ZZZZZzzzz …

As an avid morning runner, I have a confession to make. It’s really hard for me to admit this, but …

… you guys …

Mornings are SO HARD lately.  Matt can attest to this — my alarm goes off every morning, and 3-4 out of 5 days, I don’t even consider getting up.  Sometimes I don’t just snooze it, I turn it off and reset it for nearly 45 minutes later.  I don’t know if it’s the switch of the seasons, or the switch of sleeping in the same bed with someone, or my own irrational fear of injury, or what.  But I just cannot get myself up.

This is horribly frustrating to someone like me, who loves morning runs more than most things.  All day I say to myself, “run run run run,” and I go to bed and set my alarm, even going so far as to set out a good outfit for the morning weather.  And then sleeping me takes over and BAM, snooze after snooze after snooze, and I’m late, rushing through my shower, screaming at myself for not running.

It’s not like I’m not active in other ways.  I’ve been obsessed with Spin/Cycling classes for a few years now, and I always force myself to go to a spin class on the days I don’t run.  Afternoon me is always more easy to convince to squeeze in a workout. But spinning, while great, isn’t running.  It isn’t the alone time with my ipod that I crave.

The most frustrating thing is that these few weeks in the fall (that I am missing) are just about the best days a runner can ask for.  Cooler, yes, but clear and bright.  Not too hot, not too cold.  No rain, no fog, no humidity.  Crispy leaves to pounce on and hear that satisfying crunccccchhhhhh as it discintegrates beneath my sneaker.

I keep telling myself, “Next week will be your week.  You’ll get it together next week.” And yet, although I’ve been pretty good about getting out on the weekends, Monday morning rolls around and I go, “no no, tomorrow.”  Then Tuesday rolls around and … well … you know how it goes.

Oh My God, I’m Back Again

I know what you’re going to say. Where have you been Megan!! WHERE?!?! It’s true, I promised I would write more, but then I didn’t.

Being more dilligent about writing was a resoultion I made to myself for this year, and I’m so sorry I’ve failed myself and you.  My resolution was one that was halted by something impossibly unforseen – something that I shouldn’t have let stop me, but did.

The bombs downtown on Marathon Monday.

You see, the thing is, I didn’t know what to say.  I was there, although many blocks from harm, with a cold beer in my hand and a loving boyfriend at my side. I was able to answer texts, and eventually call my loved ones.  I was lucky. But I was still so sad.  And then so angry.

I crafted the first blog post in my head so many times, but I was just unable to write. As a runner I felt I needed to mention it, but how? I wanted to tell you how sad I was, and how angry I was, and how determined to run a marathon I was, but somehow I couldn’t. I hope it’s something you can forgive.

It’s been a long time since April, in some ways.  The storefronts have been repaired, the people who were hurt are out of the hospitals, learning to walk on prostetic legs, or function with only one arm. The people of Boston have reverted back to their rude coldness (even in the damp heat of summer), having most likely gotten tired of trying to be friendly. It was nice to see the kind smile of the T driver, but it’s also comforting too, to know that it was only just a phase.  Boston Strong really means, “I’m not going to let fear change who I am, and who I am is cranky, and I LIKE THAT ABOUT MYSELF.”

With September this year came something truely exciting for the city, something we were worried about back in April.  Not just the peaceful afternoons of beautiful crisp days and the clear blue skies that come with fall in New England, but on September 9th, the BAA opened registration for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Last year, chowing on Fenway sausages, pressing our way through the crowd to catch a glimpse of the finish line, I said to Matt, “you know what? I can do this. Next year, I’m going to do this.”  Later that week my brother and I got a text from my dad (who, now at 62, did his last marathon when I was in 5th grade) saying, “we’re going to do this race next year, right??”

Not being a star athlete, and being a generally untalented runner, the only way I can run is if I run with a charity (the qualifying times for a woman my age are SICK).  So, I’ve applied to run with Dana Farber.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to run for Dana Farber, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Dad and Kevin have applied too.

In the mean time, I’m going to do my best to get this space back on track.  Matt and I moved in together, I have a new gym, and Willow is a cat primed for internet fame, so I have all kinds of things to share with you.


As with every year, it can be a challenge for a runner to keep running in the winter.  Not only are there fewer hours of sunlight, but in many places, like Boston, the weather just does not cooperate.  It’s cold, snowy, icy, and damp. It’s dark and dangerous, even with reflective gear. For months. So you stop running outside.  The longer Saturday and Sunday runs become “just get back out there in the daylight for a few miles” runs. You make it to the gym if you can, but by the end of the winter, sometimes you can develop some pretty bad habits.  Bad habits that usually involve not running.

Last year after the winter, as maybe you could surmise,  I fell off the running boat.  Matt had, for Christmas, gifted me with a membership to a rowing club in the area, and I was really excited to get back to rowing.  It was awesome while it lasted, but ultimately too expensive to continue. (I may have found a solution, but that’s for another post.) My hopes to run the Reach-The-Beach in NH got dashed when my team didn’t re-form, and we didn’t have enough people to run.

And, what I really got into last year, honestly, was spinning.  I would (and still do) skip out on a lot of after-work things to go spin. It was ok that I missed a morning run, because I could go to spin class after work. I would not set my running alarm, because, “it’s ok, I’ll go to spin later.”

And so the running faded.  I’m sure a million runners have said this before, but when I don’t have a plan to participate in some kind of race, it can be really hard to get back into the swing of things.  

So my goal, for 2013?  Triathlon.  A sprint one, because I’m pretty sure I’m not at all a strong swimmer, and I’m pretty sure real bikes on real roads are a little more complicated than the stationary ones in that nice room with AC.


I miss running, and I love spin. I want to try it.  Maybe after that, I’ll go back to thinking about a full marathon.  But one thing at a time.

(It’s nice to be back!!)

… here I am …

Both my roommate and my boyfriend will off-hand, independently of each other, at times mention how I never blog anymore.  And how maybe I should get back into it.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, because I do.  Mostly it’s just been a time-management issue. Which is one of my new-years resolutions – to be better with my time.  It means less dicking around on my iPhone, and more quality time with the people I love.  It means less TV, and more reading.  It means less time-wasting internet, and more productivity.

So check back, because I’m back.

Cat-intines’ Day (just a month late)

I know it’s long overdue, but i just have to share this story with you.

On Valentines Day, Matt and I did as we did last year (on our first real date!) and went to this weird delicious Chinese place in China Town and had weird delicious Chinese food.  How weird, you ask? Shark fin dumplings and fried octopus weird.  It was fabulous.

After dinner we went out to a movie, and then spent the night at his place.  In the morning, I got these texts from Jessie (whose boyfriend is in grad school and wasn’t able to celebrate the day until 9pm, leaving Jessie home alone on the couch with the cats and the DVR):

"someone didnt get what they wanted for v day"
"still pissy but accepting me as a backup date"
"Aaaaaaand the drugs kicked in"

I was really worried about Willow when Jessie moved in, because when Rebekah first moved in, Willow went nuts. Not only is the daily Melatonin working wonders on her anxiety, I think it’s also making her more friendly in general.

Except to Matt.  She hates Matt.  Sorry Matt.