Positive Momentum: 2015 Bucket List

IMG_4532Ladies and gents, I’m excited to present my 2015 Bucket List! I started crafting this year’s list in about August, and as you’ll see, have already made headway on a few items.

This year is about harnessing the positive momentum. 2014 was an incredible year, and I want to keep the positivity flowing.

Now to briefly backtrack, here’s my reasoning behind annual bucket lists, rather than resolutions: Resolutions start with the negative and then turn into proactive “resolutions” which are hardly resolute; they’re followed for the first couple of weeks of the new year, before they fall by the wayside and all you’re left with is a monthly gym membership fee.

Bucket lists are lists of action items, things I would like to do/learn/accomplish just for the sake of doing/learning/accomplishing them. I hold myself accountable, and regularly check in to share updates, accomplishments, even supplements. So without further ado, my seventh annual list:

TREAT YO’SELF
1. Have my DNA tested (via 23andme or another).
2. Have a real Christmas tree (even if I have to call it a Hanukkah bush). Did this this year 🙂 It’s tiny, but festive!
3. Buy myself a bouquet of flowers.
4. Get a waffle maker☺. AB already got me one for our Secret Santa exchange!
5. Find a perfect purse (currently on the wait list for this one). I got a jumpstart and bought it over Black Friday weekend!
6. Buy a mirror for my living room.
7. Treat myself to a spa day.
8. Re-pierce my ears and buy a pair of earrings to celebrate (love these Kate Spades or a simple pair that goes with everything).
9. Find a new perfume that’s all me.
10. Buy myself new running / training shoes (probs these).

EXPERIENCE IT
11. Free kayaking at the Downtown Boathouse in Manhattan.
12. Travel someplace new.
13. Go to the pumpkin patch, or apple picking.
14. Ride a roller coaster.
15. Have high tea.
16. Shoot a gun.
17. Visit the Museum of the City of New York.
18. Eat a new protein – like reindeer or ostrich (I’m recruiting Captain America for his help on this one!).
19. Find a signature drink (French 75?).
20. Eat oysters (I tried my first recently; need to try more! Apparently there are habanero oysters?).
21. See Shakespeare in the park.
22. Attend an underground dinner.
23. Try dim sum in Chinatown.
24. Go to the Newseum in D.C.
25. Go to a festival / fair.
26. Learn a new card game.
27. Spend a day on the beach.
28. Recreate the balloon project on my birthday (or just for fun!).
29. Do something crazy.
30. Share some of my favorite sights with my soon-to-be-assigned Little!

GET MOVING
31. Go hiking (some great ideas here).
32. Run a charitable race (Fifth Avenue Mile, New York Underwear Run, Empire State Run Up, New Year Midnight Run).
33. Try the 100 pushups challenge.
34. Take a cult fitness class – flywheel or barre or kickboxing.
35. Sign up for ballet.
36. Do the splits.

CREATE
37. Read “The Artist’s Way.”
38. Read something by Proust.
39. Read “A Feast for Crows” and “A Dance with Dragons” before the “Game of Thrones” season 5 premier.
40. Publish something.
41. Host a brunch.
42. Craft something I found on Pinterest.
43. Crochet another headband / ear warmer.
44. Make fried okra.
45. Make homemade yogurt.
46. Do a standup comedy routine (via Peppercomm!).
47. Paint my room.
48. Take a photowalk.

MAKE A CHANGE
49. 12 Months of Meaningful Improvement:
January: Month of using zero disposable cups or bottles.
February: Month of drinking nothing but water (and protein shakes).
March: Month of no television.
April: Month of meatless Mondays.
May: Month of twice-weekly blog posts.
June: Month of morning walks.
July: Month supporting only small / local businesses.
August: Month without shopping.
September: Month without taking a cab.
October: Month without gluten. Just shut up and do it.
November: Month of daily gratitudes.
December: Month of random acts of kindness.
50. Implement Thursdays as a spend-free day.
51. Donate my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths again! This will also require buying a new hair dryer ☺
52. Learn a new(ish) language.

PROGRESS / SAVE
53. Build up a three-month emergency fund.
54. Ask for a raise / promotion.
55. Invest in something, even if it’s just Kiva.
56. Start contributing to my 401(k) (I haven’t reached the minimum time limit yet).
57. Improve my credit score by 10 points.
58. Join a professional group (PRSSA, New York Women in Communications).
69. Attend 5 networking events.
70. Set a date for my next big trip. Contribute $100 (or ideally, much more) to the fund each month!

Have any ideas for future lists? Want to join me for a few? Leave comments, ideas, and share your own lists – I’m always hungry for new ideas and inspiration!

A Sneak Peak: 12 Months of Meaningful Improvement

NYE-1 copyI’ve been working diligently over the past couple of weeks to build out my 2015 bucket list, and a lot of the ideas I’ve been stumbling upon have had a 30-day theme… 30 days of going the extra mile, or 30 days of self restraint. So I thought I’d make a year of it. In addition to my standard tasks and dreams, I’m going to spend the year making meaningful improvements.

When I first shared this list with AB, his response was “It sounds like you’re just trying to torture yourself,” so I wanted to explain some of the background and thought process behind each month. Some are or will be harder than others, but as a habit takes minimum 21 days to stick, the idea is that if it sticks, I can carry over good habits into the following months. So as a little sneak peak to my 2015 bucket list, I present 2015’s 12 Months of Meaningful Improvement:

January: Month of using zero disposable cups or bottles. This seems pretty straightforward, but I’m a big fan of being environmentally friendly. I also wanted to start with something doable but still impactful. I will be carrying with me my Klean Kanteen, so I can still make trips to Starbucks and grab some water, but will limit that impact.

February: Month of drinking nothing but water (and protein shakes). AB made the caveat about protein shakes, because I would otherwise be lacking in my post-workout protein intake. But this means no coffee, no alcohol, no high-calorie drinks, no afternoon diet Coke, etc. It’s something of a cleanse, and I’m also hoping it saves a little money, too. I’d really like to limit my alcohol intake in the coming year. I find that while I enjoy a little wine or whiskey at home, I’m really tired of going out.

March: Month of no television. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that this will be the most difficult month. I watch a few shows with AB and may or may not keep watching these (technically, they’re online). However, I want to eliminate my habit of turning on the TV and browsing the web, post-work. I will instead read, write, draw, cook, clean, or call loved ones.

April: Month of meatless Mondays. My food philosophy tends to be “meat-on-the-side” anyway, but I want to make a conscious effort to limit my meat intake for a slew of reasons. Meat is expensive, detrimental to the environment, and can cause some serious health issues. Now, I don’t have a poor or meat-dense diet, so I’m not particularly invested in being veggie again, but I think that limiting my intake will help encourage me to be mindful of my consumption.

May: Month of twice-weekly blog posts. It’s pretty clear I’ve been struggling to post regular content here – really for about a year. I attended Alt Summit last year, which was super inspiring, but I don’t feel that I have a niche for MSW anymore. I want to actively combat that – to fake it ’til I make it by posting regular content.

June: Month of morning walks. I haven’t yet figured out how this will impact my morning workouts – it might be that my walk from the gym to the office counts, but really I just want to get out and spend some time in the daylight. Walking was always a good opportunity for me to reboot or foster creativity, and I’d love to challenge myself to get outside and enjoy a little fresh air. It might instead mean taking a walk at lunch… we’ll see.

July: Month supporting only small / local businesses. This will be hard for me, because it means to chains and no Amazon. I’ll still be buying groceries, as usual, but want to limit any discretionary spending, and force myself to be more conscious of how I spend my month.

August: Month without shopping. I know, I know. The blasphemy. Emergencies and food (from the grocery store) are allowed. Beyond that, I’m skimping.

September: Month without taking a cab. This is both to encourage myself to walk, and to save money. I spend a lot of money on cabs.

October: Month without gluten. Just shut up and do it. Ughhh. I know going gluten-free is super trendy right now, and for the past several years. I’m not in it to lose weight. Really, I think that gluten intake impacts my allergies. And I don’t want to be itchy all the time. I’ve tried out gluten-free and felt amazing but it’s an INCREDIBLY difficult diet to maintain. It takes a lot of planning.

November: Month of daily gratitudes. In brainstorming these months, I noticed a lot were about limiting myself. But during the month of Thanksgiving, I want to emphasize everything I’m grateful for – even the small things. This might mean journaling about my “gratitudes,” it might mean just saying a silent thank you at the end of the day, or it may mean doing “high-low” – a game of sorts where each person lists their high point and their low point of the day – over dinner

December: Month of random acts of kindness. And in the theme of the holidays, I want to extend my cheerfulness to others in the form of random acts of kindness. Everything counts – it doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture. Donating when prompted at checkouts, holding the door for a stranger, surprising a coworker with coffee. Should be a wonderful year?

Inspired to try some meaningful months yourself, or write an annual bucket list? Share it with me or in the comments – I’m always looking for new ideas.

My Christmas Wishlist – or – Why I’m going apeshit over the holidays this year

I haven’t properly celebrated the holidays since 2009. Initially, my family stopped doing gifts for reasons financial, philosophical, and – later – emotional. And we never got back to it in full swing. But this baby girl (yes, I’m referring to myself in third person) has a steady income and a need to shower my loved ones in PRESENTS!!! To fully understand my obsession, you must first understand the backstory(s). I’ll concede.

2009: Christmas as usual. I got my travel backpack and my mother’s commitment that she’d go to Europe with me in May. Basically, I got the world for Christmas. Big potatoes.

2010: The family had a rough year, emotionally. In lieu of presents (though we still did stockings), we started volunteering our Christmas morning, serving those less fortunate than we. Also, I saw little kids hug my dad like he was their personal angel. An amazing sight, friends.

2011: The year that rocked our lives. Several people died and Christmas would have been miserable. We volunteered again, and celebrated the coming new year (and new start) like it was the new Y2K.

2012: We were in Europe (I know, I know, woe is we) and didn’t do gifts or stockings. We did share some trinket-y little gifts, soak up the joy of each others company, and revel in the beauty of Paris. I should omit this one from my sob story.

2013: I moved Christmas Eve. For the bajillionth time. Christmas day, I got Chinese food. (Kind of evens out 2013, huh).

So now this year!! Not only am I going home, not only do I get to drown my favorite people with love, but I’m bringing home the boy, too! AB gets to meet my puppies, see my childhood home, sit in my glorious jacuzzi… It’ll be epic.

Now, as for the below…Ideally I’d show you everything I’ve found for my lovelies – the good, the bad, and the illegal. But I like surprises, so instead I’m posting my wish list. And I suppose this also serves as a little teaser for my yet-a-work-in-progress 2015 bucket list, because I plan to buy myself most of these little tchotchkes.

So excited for the holidays!

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 9.20.49 PMWORK GOODIES: gold foil print, Kate Spade gold folders, space heater | WARM GOODIES: J. Crew duck boot, brown sweater boot, knee high socks, hat, black nylon boots | WORKOUT GOODIES: gym shoes, GAIAM gym bag, amiigo fitness tracker

Life on the Edge

beach-cliff-cute-girl-water-Favim.com-419890_largeSo I’m at this really important turning point in my life, right?—Just moved into this amazing, new apartment, boyfriend moves to the big city to start up his life and blaze a trail for me to follow, and I’ve got a measly four months left of college before I’m dumped in the real world. So, naturally, at this precipice of all precipices, I go ahead and lose my planner on a plane. Go me.

But even without my color-coded little planner, I am choosing to take an optimistic view of the next couple of months. Sure, long distance will suck, but I’m going to make this an incredible semester, end on a high note, and… I don’t know. Figure it out or something.

Step 1: FOOD

As many people know, I am a total foodie, and I care a lot about the things I put into my body. I’ve also tried many different diet changes, and they each have their pros and cons. This semester, I’ve re-started my biweekly produce delivery with Boston Organics. This time around, I’m subscribing to the small 2/3 vegetable box (more variety. One of my biggest qualms with the dogma localvore box was the lack of variety. I can only scarf down so many beets). The rest of my diet will consist of basically quinoa and meat, because there’s one more diet detail: I’m cutting out gluten.

Now let me explain—I’m don’t have celiac, nor am I particularly gluten-sensitive. But I tried this for a week before, and it was hard, but I enjoyed the benefits. Most of my go-to, on-the-go snacks and meals (breakfast sandwiches, wraps, burritos) are bread-based, and no gluten means I have to eat more protein and rely on vegetables as filler. I found when I cut out gluten, I snacked less, packed in tons more fiber, and ultimately felt “cleaner” and skinnier. I’ll miss beer, but I think this is a great way to force myself to plan out meals, cut down on snacking, and save money by avoiding eating and drinking out.

Step 2: WORKOUTS

I briefly mentioned a while ago how last semester, AB got me to start lifting weights. We went three times a week and the benefits were awesome. I felt sexy and powerful. And then summer happened and it all just kind of fell by the wayside. But he and I worked together and found a new three-day-a-week lifting routine, with varying degrees of difficulty. I’ll lift three days a week, and do cardio two or three days. The lift routine is here, and for cardio, I’ll rely mostly on spinning and running (surprised?). I found this great app on my phone called Spin Class, which basically enforces intervals. You can design your own routines or use their pre-made ones. And it uses the music already in iTunes.

With AB gone, one of the most important things for me is to fill my time. Because busy girls don’t miss their boyfriends (as much). I’m hoping some gym time can help me out.

Step 3: LIFE

When I’m not cooking, or at the gym, or making a dedicated effort to be more involved in Kappa (another goal—better late than never?), my free time will be devoted to job hunting. I’m piecing together my demo reel, revamped this website (you like?) and my resume (coming soon), and am committing to applying to a job a day. I want to be in the Northeast, and doing something I love, but I figure variety is key. I’m looking for reporter positions, yes, but also paralegal work, research, writing, HR, nonprofits, whatever. I know that if I’m good enough at something, I’ll enjoy it, no matter what it is.

Here’s to an awesome semester at my new home (pictures to come), full of great food, fitness, fun, and drive to accomplish my goals. Now who’s down for some cliff diving?

Super Sexy Superfoods

Happy National Nutrition Month! I know the month’s almost over and all, but it’s never too late to celebrate. This week, I interviewed for and got a job at Not Your Sugar Mamas, a chocolate company based out of Martha’s Vineyard that advocates positivity and health. All of their products are organic, raw, soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, preservative-free, and refined ickiness-free. They’re also chock-full of these pretty little ingredients called superfoods.

Superfoods are to normal foods like superheroes are to crack addicts. They’re exponentially more awesome, better for you, typically tasty, and often have the added benefit of making you feel sexy… no but really. You’ve heard that blueberries and salmon and kale are all great for you (truly, they are), but what about the less conventional superfoods? They’re too busy working overtime for your body to be popular… yet. A few of my personal favorites:

chia-seedsCHIA— Ch-ch-ch-chia!! Remember those spectacularly tacky chia pets? Turns out they’re not so horrible. The seeds (yes, the same ones) are loaded with all kinds of good stuff, notably fiber, protein and those glorious omega-3s. The seeds can be ground up into a powder and added to, well, anything; used like sesame seends to sautee veggies in; as a topping on oatmeal; OR–get this–they can be soaked. When the seeds soak in fluid, they retain a ton of it and build up a gooey-like casing that’s like a mini, healthy boba in a drink. Plus, drinking the seeds whole helps your body retain water and stay full. Om nom nom nom…

maca_lindavidaMACA— When I learned about maca, I immediately bought a bottle of capsulated powder. It’s a root plant originally from Peru that’s sometimes called “horny goat” plant. Goat herders noticed that their goats were especially, um, spirited after consuming the root. Check out all the amazing qualities–Maca combats fatigue, infertitility, menopause symptoms, sexual dysfuntion in men and women, and is said to increase stamina and energy. It’s nature’s remedy for depression, if you ask me. The root tends to come in powder or extract form, and is slightly sweet, making it a great addition to smoothies, baked goods, and treats of all kinds.

Goji-berriesGOJI BERRIES— Unless you’re shopping in China or Tibet, goji berries tend to come dried, like bright red raisins  With enough digging, you can also find them raw, in tea, as an extract, or in (very expensive) juice form. They’ve been used for 6,000 years by herbalists in Asia and have numerous benefits: they protect the liver, help eyesight, improve sexual function and fertility, strengthen the legs, boost immune function, and improve circulation.

Spirulina-PowderSPIRULINA— Spirulina is algae. For real. But don’t write it off just yet–the blue-green algae is loaded with nutrients, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene (that good stuff doctors like in carrots), vitamin E, chlorophyll… the list goes on. That’s one sexy algae. Spirulins is also very high in protein, and often used in powder form as a natural alternative to sugary protein powders. Additional benefits include helping prevent attention defecit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), and also combating cancer–especially oral cancer, fatigue, high cholesterol, and viral infections. It also stimulates the immune system and, if used like a protein-based meal supplement, can help facilitate weight loss.

Have a favorite superfood? Love a certain health product? Email me and I’ll research it for a blog post (and give credit!)–mdaniells21@gmail.com.

Workout wear for every price point

I used to wear a freebie T and $4 Soffee shorts to work out, but that’s back when I was playing high school field hockey and a workout meant taking a bath in mud and intentionally running in the way of a rock-hard ball and a stranger wielding a stick (shoutout to any fellow flyers!).

Nowadays, the same competitive spirit is there, but I place a little more importance on my aesthetic appearance when I’m working out. I love bright colors, cute clothes, and funky tan lines–because when you have cute workout gear, you’re more inclined to put it to use. At least that’s my justification for shelling out the big bucks for some sexy spandex. Workout gear is expensive, I know. And surprisingly limited to the few big brands. Which is why I’ve compiled a list of gym getups at every price point. Now get out there and start moving and lifting–you can thank me later.

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 4.25.36 PM$  It’s not rocket science that coming in at the low end of the price scale is Forever 21. Low cost, but high style, and the quality of their workout clothes is consistent and good. Their bottoms tend to hit at the natural waist, which is flattering for all figures, and the seasonal lines switch over quickly (so snatch things up before they’re gone!). They don’t have shoes or any sort of real specialty clothing, but for the everyday gym-going (or–heck–just plain comfort-seeking) stylista, it’s a safe and solid bet. Price range: $12-30

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 4.27.31 PM $$  I’m obsessed with this new site called Ellie. It’s like Birchbox for workout clothes. Think I’m kidding? Check it out. You’ll be prompted to take an online quiz that inquires about your clothing style, comfort style, workout style and location, preference for shorts v. pants, color v. solid, etc. Then, the site generates a selection catered solely to your needs. Of course, you can always just shop the entire selection. But the real perks? Become a member and for about $50, you can get two articles of clothing. A month. Plus, sign up now and you and a BFF get $20 off your first order. Styles sell out quickly, so check it out early in the month. Gotta say, though–I love everything about it. Price range: $25-50

LW1995S_9939_1$$$  I’ve mentioned before, but I am a huge fan of color. Something about neon workout gear is such an upper, and I find myself especially motivated to dirty up colorful new clothes. Nike has a great selection, though not comfortably in my price range, as does adidas and Brooks and other big name brands. But the most popular among my fellow fitness femmes? Lululemon. By a long shot. With clothing catered to yoga and running, there’s a little something for everyone’s taste. Just not everyone’s budget. Price range: $40-100

Ventfest: Suck it, Sodium

The first week of my sophomore year, my roommate came home to find me half asleep in the bathroom, my head resting on my arm, while my stomach kindly emptied its contents into the porcelain abyss. The gem that she is, roommate went out and bought me Pepto, and chicken soup.

Contrary to popular belief, I am not a partier. I think alcohol is best utilized in cooking, and hard alcohol is more or less the most disgusting thing ever (Ever noticed how vodka smells remarkably like nail polish remover? Gross). So let me be clear: I wasn’t drunk.

I clearly didn’t go to the gym (once) my sophomore year. Sept, 2010.

No, I was vomiting up pierogies.

With the help of the Pepto and club soda and very bland naan for the next day, my stomach finally let up—just in time for my body to break out in hives. We’re not talking little bumbs where the nickel from the button of your pants rubbed you the wrong way. Full. Body. Hives. And eventually, I landed myself at 2 a.m. in the local hospital, stripped down to my skivvies, as a very attractive doctor poked and prodded my miserable skin.

There wasn’t a whole lot he could do. He diagnosed steroids, and sent me on my way. We figured I was having a reaction to a preservative in the food, but without a strict elimination diet (complete with breaking out out all over again) there was no way to find out.

Sept, 2010.

Annnd that was that. It wasn’t a problem for years (granted, for one of those years, I ate almost exclusively organic, and I seldom eat meat).

Then, a week into moving to Paris, I woke up in the middle of the night, and by back was covered in bumps. FOR DAYS. I took the last of my Zyrtek, and cold showers, and drank water, hoping to flush my system.

And then it happened again two weeks later, and I determined the culprit was this prepackaged carbonara and noodles thing (cut me some slack—shopping in another language is hard).

So, I obviously never bought the pasta again. And then, about a month ago, my hands broke out up to my elbows (worth noting: it’s always a different part of my body). I hadn’t changed soaps, I hadn’t done anything. I was walking through the Musee D’Orsay and my hands suddenly looked like a newly plucked chicken.

So I did some research (I’m a journalist. Research is my jam), and compared the ingredients in both the pierogies and the carbonara. There were two chemicals in common:

So I’ve tried to avoid all chemicals. And for the most part, I’ve been really good. Except that I had company for the last week and a half. We ate out a lot and went out a lot, and basically, I’m exhausted. The idea of cooking yesterday (which I couldn’t do anyway, because all my dishes are dirty) was about as appealing as banging my head against a wall.

So I picked up a WeightWatchers meal (*cue shocked gasps*). Scandal, I know. But I’d had the brand before with no issues. It was right at the checkout and took two minutes to cook. I could be fed, changed, showered, and curled up for a nap in less than 30 minutes. Oh, so appealing.

It was delicious. I relaxed yesterday, post-class, and read for hours, switching between three books whenever I got tired of the storyline or genre.

This morning, 2012.

Glorious, right? And then I wake up this morning with hives from my wrists up to my hairline. What. The. HECKKK?!?!

So, in true Marian form, a new resolution (for my soon to come 2013 Bucket List!): I will either, (a) figure out exactly which combination of preservatives drives my body bonkers, or (b) go back to the expensive, but undeniably healthier organic diet.

Bring it, sodium.

 

Mastering the Art of French Eating

A Parisienne patisserie, where sweets are taken seriously.

I’m watching “Julie and Julia” and smiling through the entire movie. When I get back to Boston in January, and have access to a full kitchen and grocery delivery service, I want to invoke Sunday as my domestic day. Cleaning and cooking. I plan on cooking WAY too much food, so that I have enough to freeze and share with friends, enough to last me for the week. Normally, I don’t eat super healthy because by the time dinnertime rolls around, I’m too lazy and exhausted to bother cooking. Plus, I love a good cheese pizza.

Anyway, this movie just makes me smile: food and Meryl Streep and Paris all in one movie. It makes me want to shop for charming little aprons with frills (I’m legitimately obsessed) and 1960s felt hats, and to wear heels in the kitchen. Trés adorable.

True French food is so different. Better than crepes and jambon-in-everything, and fancy names… French food is fresher, richer, more expensive. And so drenched in butter and cheese and creme, it will make your heart explode in a cholesterol-ful frenzy. But delicious.

It goes beyond simply cooking differently, though. The French shop differently too. There’s the crémerie for dairy goods (except cheese, which you can find at the fromagerie), the magasin de fruits et legumes for fruits and veggies fresh from the nearby farms, the boucherie for fresh and preserved meat (except pork, which can be found at the charcuterie; and fish, which is at the poissonnerie). Then my personal favorites: the boulangerie for baked goods, the patisserie for pastries and sweets, and the confiserie for candy. I’ve even seen more than one vacuum cleaner stores, with all sorts of shapes and sizes of vacuum cleaners (some even with painted on pink faces). And for everything else, there are marches (farmers’ markets) and scattered grocery store equivalents throughout.

I moved in to my new Paris apartment a couple of days ago (pictures to come!) and had to stock my fridge. But per usual, I’m doing it wrong. Even in the overpriced grocery store that I stopped in, people were only buying two or three things at a time—cleaning goods, water bottles, beer, all things they couldn’t find elsewhere in their specialized corner shops.

I now know why the French don’t buy in American-esque bulk. First off, I let three people pass me because I had 100 dollars worth of food and they were buying milk. Second, bagging your own 100 dollars worth of groceries is a royal pain.

But the worst? Carrying 50 pounds of jambon and oefs and huile d’olive up six flights of stairs is the most painful, sweaty thing ever. Not really, but a serious pain, just saying.

As I said before, the French have a way of finding the beauty in, well, everything. Food is no exception: it’s an experience and an indulgence and every cholesterol-loaded calorie is savored and sucked dry of every last bit of flavor. So to buy things in the supermarket is blasphemy; it robs the eater of the true food experience, walking into a fromagerie stinking of brie and camembert and bleu, and meeting the monsieur or madame that runs the place. The French are all so skinny because they don’t eat as routinely and regularly as us McDonalds-gobbling Anglophones. Thus, when they do, it’s a careful ritual.

Noted. And no more supermarchés pour moi.

13.1 Miles Later…

Don’t let the smile deceive you; I felt like death.

This is just a little update to say that I finished America’s Finest City Half Marathon on Sunday, August 19! Another bucket list item knocked off, kachingggg.

Yes, I crossed the finish line, and it wasn’t in an ambulance like three other runners. But I won’t pretend like I set any records. I’m still proud, but mostly I’m just proud I didn’t die.

The first five miles went really well, and I was keeping a consistent 9.5 minute mile pace (great by my standards. I’m made for sprinting, not distance). And then I had to pee and that ruined everything.

Just kidding. But I did have to stop and it killed my momentum. And then by mile 8, I couldn’t feel my legs and I kept getting chills because my body was having a tough time regulating its temperature (For those who aren’t aware, that’s a really bad thing).

And then there was mile 9, where I met an angel of a man passing out frozen towels. Best. Thing. Ever.

I walked roughly three or four of the 13.1 miles. And when I came around the last corner, my parents were screaming for me. But if you look at the pictures (I didn’t purchase any, but I looked), my face is a sickly grey color. I was struggling.

But I crossed that baby, and under the (admittedly generous) time limit; I have the medal to prove it!

I haven’t run since Sunday—mostly because I’ve been limping for half that time—and I’m okay with that. But turns out I’m now running another half marathon in Rockport, Mass. in May. It’ll be much cooler and this time around I’ll be sure to be a lot more prepared: I’ll run with those weird gel food things, so I don’t sputter out at mile 8; I’ll train better and harder and longer and faster; I’ll find an insert for my right shoe, since I recently learned that my left leg is significantly longer than my right. Plus, it’s almost guaranteed I’ll beat my personal record.

**Many thanks to those who donated and helped me raise $550 to help fund cancer research!

Expat Moment: Gyms

I’m having an expat moment. While in Paris, I anticipate eating. A lot. So I’ve spent the last 10 minutes looking at gym options in the greater Paris area. I know that Parisians (and most Europeans) are not as crazed about the health kick, workoutaholic mentality that many Americans are, and that’s okay. P90x doesn’t really jive in France and I can deal, but when clicking through these gym websites, I can’t help but laugh a little.

Stretching is listed as a sport. As well as table tennis. Adam Gopnik wrote in Paris to the Moon about how difficult it was to find a decent, “American” gym, but that was written in the ’90s, so I thought there might be some changes. And there are. There are lots of fitness training programs, yoga, pilates, swim, and tennis, but–I’m sorry–stretching as a sport? I can’t stop laughing. Maybe that’s why the Parisians are all so darn pretty: They never sweat!

I guess I’ll just have to make do with podcasts and DVDs and running in public gardens in my tres Americain running shoes.