super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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A compendium of my fitness/health blogging pet peeves

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Do you ever find yourself practising the fine art of hate-reading? Sometimes, when you’re down? Sometime when you’re happy? Only all the time? Is reading this blog your ultimate hate-reading moment for the day?

Don’t tell me. I’d rather not know.

Anyway, sometimes I find myself doing the odd bit of hate-reading. It’s not even hate-reading at its finest – as in, I don’t actively go to a website or blog to get annoyed. But there are certain blogs on my reader that, whenever there’s a new post, I am always almost certain there’ll be something annoying about it. And yet, I still click through and read them. (Don’t worry, if you’re reading this, it’s not you. People who choose to read SGG are, according to statistics, pretty damn awesome).

I’m not sure why, whether there’s something cathartical in releasing bad energy on the internet like that instead of aiming it at the people around you. Maybe – and this is the most widely accepted theory – I’m just a little bit mean. But aren’t we all?

Anyway, I made good use of about 15 minutes of my day yesterday unsubscribing from a handful of blogs that I realised I had been hate-reading. Digital decluttering is kind of a big deal for mental sanity (plus, it beats actual decluttering since it requires zero physical effort). It was surprisingly liberating.

While I was going through this virtual clean-up (a great way to procrastinate on actually cleaning up), I noticed a certain pattern on the fitness/health blogs that I had been hate-reading. There is a short list of things that annoy me about these and, of course, for lack of something better to write, you get to read about those here. In no particular order, here are my 6+1 health/fitness blogging pet peeves (the +1 bit is because the last one is actually a general blogging one, not exclusive to fitness bloggers):

1. I’ve got no problem with your self-portraits where you look super pretty and your hair is all straight and your makeup is all in the right place. But if you have a really nice photo of yourself and then a caption that says something like “sorry about the bed hair!” or “I know it looks like every day is laundry day here!” and “ugh, I look so ugly!”, then we have an issue here. I mean, bitch please! We can tell you straightened the hell out of your hair before the photo and we recognise an expensive and impeccably ironed top when we see one (even if we don’t often find them in our closets ourselves). Don’t get me started on “post-workout photos” that include zero sweat, no red puffy faces and instead show straight hair and makeup that isn’t dribbling off their eyes.

2. Descriptions of every single one of your meals. This point kind of branches out into a range of directions. First, you have those people who will invariably take a photo of their breakfast every single day even though they have the exact same thing for breakfast every day of the week. We get it. You love peanut butter on toast. And you have no other plates in the house. No need for another photo. Just assume that we already know what’s for breakfast and what it looks like because you’ve posted the same thing for the last 300 days. Also, I don’t need to have meal reports of what you eat every single day. As shocking as this might be, I don’t really care. And then there are the snacks. Some health/fitness bloggers will show you a photo of themselves holding three peanuts and say that they just couldn’t control their cravings, or they’ll be holding a square of chocolate and caption the photo “couldn’t help myself – had to have some dessert!”. Love, sweetie, honey, darling, a square of chocolate is not dessert. Three peanuts do not constitute a “snack”.

3. Photos that include immaculate houses in the background and then say stuff like “excuse the mess”. Dah-ling, puh-lease. We know you polished the hell out of that table before taking that photo. And I know a cushion that’s been carefully placed on the couch to look like it was casually thrown on there when I see one.

4. Remember the popular girls in high school everyone wanted to hang out with and then they loved mentioning it to everyone else because hanging out with them made them super cool by osmosis? The health/fitness blogger version of that stuff is name-dropping brands. Sometimes in inappropriate and clearly artificial ways. You don’t need to tell me your headband’s brand 5 times in the same blog post. You love it and it’s snuggly and they sent it to you for free but it wouldn’t matter if it cost $500 you would still buy it and wear it because you love it so much and totally not just because they sent it to you for free. Whatever. Wearing Lululemon Athletica from head to toe does not make you a faster runner. It makes you a rich runner who overspends and it makes me a jealous hate-reader. Either way, it’s not a good look for any of us (well, except for you, because Lululemon does make some pretty cute things).

5. Lists like “the top 10 races in the world” or the “top 10 parks to run in” that only mention races and parks in the US (where most fitness bloggers I read are based). Are you familiar with this strange little concept called “rest of the world”? It’s pretty big. The same goes for giveaways online that don’t specify the rules as far as location of the entrants goes as if it should be obvious that it’s only for US residents. It’s not obvious and you’re alienating a part of your readers by omitting that. Bottom line: you suck and I miss out on giveaways. Uncool.

6. Playing it down. I understand you’re trying to push yourself and self-motivate but, if it’s only about yourself, consider a private journal. Don’t make people who read you feel like losers when they see stuff “super easy 20 miles today, barely worked up a sweat!” or “I was going to do a real workout today but then got lazy and just ran 15 super easy miles instead”. In my case, this has a demotivating effect. Why bother if I sweat my butt off after 3 miles? I’m clearly no good at this.

+1. Captchas. I was just going to say congrats on your latest race. Don’t give me all this extra work to prove that I’m human. I’m human and humans don’t have patience for proving they’re not robots.

(I also thought about mentioning sites that automatically play music but since it’s not 1995, I’m going to go ahead and assume no one’s doing that shit anymore.)

Now it’s your turn. What really annoys you on the internet? Bloggers who write entire posts about hate-reading other bloggers? Bloggers who ask you questions at the end of their posts? Let it all out. Rant away.


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Inspired!

After my mini-meltdown about the half-marathon last week, I’m feeling a lot more positive about things this time. It may have something to do with all the marathon excitement that populated the internet in the past few hours (with a friend finishing the marathon in Porto – his first marathon!), people I have met finishing the NYC marathon and other cool stuff like finding out that the fourth place belonged to a Portuguese lady (is she fast or what?). I mean, between the article about the couple who got married *while* running a marathon and this great read about the un-sporty turned runner, there’s a lot of running goodness out there on the interwebs right now.

I am sure it this positive vibe I’m getting is also somewhat related to the fact that, after running 6km on Saturday and feeling like crap, I ran 16km on Sunday and felt amazing. Not sure what happened there but boy was that a good run! I think that’s exactly what I needed: a good long run to put my mind at ease and remind me that, yeah, I’ve done it before so I know it’s not impossible.

On sunday morning, in spite of the cloudy (sometimes rainy) weather, S. and I headed over to St Heliers for what we thought would be a 12km (maybe 14km) run. Our goal, when we started, was to run non-stop for 45 minutes, then stretch, turn around and run another 45 minutes to where we’d started.

The temperature was just ideal and all the other runners around really added to our motivation. Once our 45 minutes were up, we decided we could keep going a bit longer and ran another 5 minutes to the port, where we sat on the grass overlooking the shipping containers and had a good stretch. Then we turned around and ran another 50 minutes back, with a total of 16km (according to her app) or 16.25km (according to mine) done. The best part? We felt great afterwards! And may I add this was a mere 30 something hours after my epic running fail when I met up with her, ran 1km (yes, one!) and had to walk home with some sort of weird stomach pain? I was glad to see that hadn’t stuck around.

The half-marathon is now less than two weeks away and I’m feeling a LOT better about it. We’re making a girls’ weekend out of it, staying at a cool hotel and heading to the street party that the town is putting on after the half-marathon too. I don’t know what I’m more excited about but the important thing is that I no longer feel like Kerikeri is the place where I am going to die. Win!

On a less positive note, I’m so far behind on NaNoWriMo it’s not even funny! I wrote about 300 words last night and felt myself hitting a bit of a dead-end in the story so decided to sit there and let it simmer for a while. Time to stop over-thinking it and get that word count up, seeing as that’s what this challenge is all about anyway.


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Summing up the October blogging challenge

October has come and gone and so has the blogging challenge I set for myself.

I had initially decided to try to blog once a day every day during October which would mean I would get to the end of the 31st with at least 31 blog posts written. I knew it would be a busy month so thought that, if necessary, I would just post some YouTube video or whatever interesting Ted talk I had watched on a day when I didn’t have time to write anything else.

Then I decided that there was really no point in posting stuff like that just to fill up the blank space – the old “if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all” adage came to mind. After all, this was a challenge for myself, to try and get me into the habit of blogging (and writing) as often as possible. A YouTube video to replace a blog post wasn’t going to help that, really.

I started off well. In fact, I managed to publish on blog post every day until the 14th, when I didn’t publish anything. It was okay because I had published two blog posts the day before and then published another two the day after.

From the 15th onwards, things got slightly harder. I travelled through different timezones to Singapore and worked my butt off so couldn’t keep up with blogging and everything else. Nothing was published between the 15th and the 19th, when I sat on the hotel lobby and posted a quick recap of my Singapore trip. And then another break… travelling back to New Zealand (stopping over in Australia) took a total of 15 hours and I came back to the office with about 3.5 tonnes of work to do before setting out on an overnight hike, which I blogged about four days after the Singapore blog post. The next day, to try and catch up, I published another two blog posts. For some reason, I skipped the 25th and didn’t blog on that day, but got back into it the day after with another two blog posts (one of them fairly long). From then on, I’ve blogged every day until today, the 31st, including two blog posts on the 29th and three today (!).

In total, I posted 30 blog posts in October. I know I’m one short and I could quickly pick a funny cat photo or something else to put up here and get a better result on this challenge. But what would be the point? I don’t think that would make this self-imposed blogging challenge any more successful. I really feel like blogging as become a habit again and, regardless of whether some blog posts are more interesting than others, I’ve enjoyed documenting everything I’ve documented here this month.

Here’s a roundup of the most read posts from October, in case you feel like a trip down short-term memory lane:

  1. Leitch’s Track, Whareorino Forest, New Zealand
  2. lomo love
  3. distance means nothing
  4. crouch, touch, pause, engage!
  5. a photo tour of new plymouth, new zealand
  6. running randoms
  7. a small photo tour of Sintra’s many Sintras
  8. vanilla cupcakes with passionfruit icing
  9. Fado (and other weird expat behaviour)
  10. How much did this run suck? Let me count the ways. 
November will be a very different story. I’ll be focusing on my off-work writing efforts on NaNoWriMo and a lot of the rest of my free time will be taken up with half-marathon training. But I’m sure I’ll squeeze in the time to stop by as often as possible to document all of those things too.


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NaNoWriMo 2011

Starting tomorrow and for the next 30 days, I will:

  • try to remain just as productive at my full-time job
  • train for my second half-marathon, run said half-marathon and finish it injury-free
  • spend time on a pacific island and try to enjoy it as much as possible
  • maintain some sort of social life
  • write a 50,000 word novel (or 1666 words per day, to be more precise)
So apologies in advance if you say good morning to me and I respond by threatening to hit you in the face with whatever I happen to be holdingl. As you can see, it’ll be totally justified.


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Pre-challenge challenge

 

WordPress reckons that I should write a post every day in October. It’s a sort of pre-challenge challenge, in anticipation of NaNoWriMo, which starts on 1 November and which I decided to do again this year, because I’m clearly a big freaking idiot. I’ve got a lot coming up in November, such as, oh I don’t know, another half marathon for which I haven’t even started training (crap!), the whole full time job thing which, as the description suggests, takes up quite a bit of time, concerts (portishead coming to auckland – yes!) and other activities that I stupidly signed up for while at the same time deciding to try to write 1,667 words a day during the 30 days of November.

I’m not taking this whole one post a day in October thing very seriously but I also don’t think it’s a terrible idea, to get me into the right mood for the November madness (hello, big fat giant bags under my eyes!). So yes, I hear ya WordPress, I’ll give this one post a day thing a go, if it helps getting my ass into gear for November.

I’ll probably cheat though, just so you know. Just a bit. You know, here and there. If I struggle to come up with something to write about because life has been sort of uneventful, I might just make it a “photo a day challenge” for that day. Or I might just slap you with a random You Tube link. Or even pre-schedule posts if I don’t think I’ll be able to blog on a particular day.

Or, if I wanted to be a real cheater, I could write a post about writing a post a day for a month and have it count towards that final goal.

1 October = done!


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It’s the (not so) little things

Around lunchtime on 29 November 2009, I typed my final word on the document that I had had open for the previous 29 days, added a “the end” for dramatic effect and grabbed my phone to call C. It was sunday and he was out on a bush walk with some friends.

It was a gorgeous day outside, as it had been in the few days prior to that. I had massive bags under my eyes and was in serious need of some vitamin D so I remember feeling really bummed out I couldn’t join them for the walk. “I DID IT! IT’S FINISHED!” I said, as soon as he said ‘hello’. Instead of his usual patronising “hmm okay, honey” (usually said while he quickly tries to remember what the heck I’m talking about), he said “All done? Wow! That’s awesome!” and proceeded to tell the person walking next to him that I had just finished my first NaNoWriMo challenge and, with that, my first 50,000 word novel.

The reason for his genuine satisfaction with my achievement (which, on a universal scale, is pretty minuscule, I do realise) was because he had seen how hard each of those days had been, working full-time in a writing job, only to get home and write another 1667 words on top of that, when my brain was begging for a break. I printed out my “winner’s certificate” and felt genuinely proud of myself.

Was it because I had written the next New York Times Bestseller? Of course not, I’m no Snooki! I had over 50,000 words of complete rubbish (so bad I haven’t dared to open the document pretty much since that exact same day, for fear of dissolving into a pool of embarrassment).

So no, it had nothing to do with the kind of work I had slaved over. It was just about the fact that I had set myself to do it… and I had done it. Bonus: I had managed to stick to my self-imposed rules: 1) do not take any time off work because of it and 2) do not cancel any pre-scheduled social engagements because of it.

In the great scheme of things, doing the thing you love the most every single day for 30 days shouldn’t be hard. But like most things in life, turn it into an obligation, give it a deadline, and it enters the “tedious chore” danger zone. That was what I was afraid to happen. It didn’t.

Anyway, I started thinking about this after watching this short TED talk by Matt Cutts about how small sustainable steps make you achieve your goals in a much easier way. It all sounds pretty obvious until you start thinking about how you usually have big ideas (I want to write a novel! I want to run a marathon!) and then get completely overwhelmed by the scale of those ideas and toss them aside in favour of something a little easier.

In a way, I think that’s the same logic behind my decision to enter one running event per month this year (I’ve entered five so far, having missed the June one due to a cold and the July one due to not wanting to give organisers $50 for the only run that fits into my schedule… but I’ll catch up). The point is, this goal is not to run a marathon (CALM DOWN!) but to slowly progress towards something of the sorts.

(The fact that I’m going to be running my first ever half-marathon in 3 weeks time and still have no idea how I’m going to live to blog about it is a subject for an entirely different blog post.)

Last January, I also set myself the “mini-goal” of running 100km during that calendar month. It turned out to be fairly easy to reach, with summer days being a big help and getting through the month tracking the numbers and seeing them increase was actually quite exciting, like I was in a race against myself… and winning!

Thirty days seems like short enough for me to stick to something in case I don’t like it and it also seems like long enough for me to do something I like very often without getting sick of it. Plus, it means I’m making each day matter, somehow. Well, most days.

***

image credit goes to my friend & running buddy S. and you can sort of see me with my dorky knee brace during our very first running event, on Waiheke Island, back in January.


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how full-time writing work nearly killed my writing buzz

I think I started failing as a blogger the day I took on my first job as a journalist. Prior to that, writing was my absolute favourite thing to do (right after devouring bowls of breakfast cereal while reading comic books) and then, slowly and steadily, my will to write outside of my full-time writing job started decreasing.

Looking back, I don’t think that’s surprising. What I find surprising is the amount of time that it took me to realise the correlation between the two. In my current job (and basically all the jobs I’ve had since leaving uni in 2006), I write full-time. Over the years, the only things that have changed about my jobs have been the office locations and the topics. The main task has remained the same: writing.

It’s kind of understandable, then, that I get home after work and writing is often the last thing I want to be doing with my spare time.

But what I’ve come to realise lately is that being “understandable” doesn’t make it okay. I studied journalism because I have always loved writing and thought that would be the closest to a proper job involving what I loved doing the most.

I now wonder if my writing skills/love would profit from me having decided to take on a completely different career choice. If I had been a butcher, a plumber or an accountant, I would at least be able to get home from work and maybe feel like some writing would be the ideal way to get my mind off the rest of the day.

I realise a lot of people manage to coordinate a writing career (working for someone else) with writing for pleasure (working for yourself, basically…) but I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to become one of them.

I’ve also come to realise that I’m not alone in this whole not wanting to do for a hobby what you do for a living thing. Due to the nature of my job, I interview a lot of technology and business people. I often ask them what they do when they’re not working and I can’t think of a single one who has ever answered me with something IT-related. In fact, they’re usually not crazy about gadgets or technology or anything like that, favouring other non-geeky activities such as sports or hikes. I guess it’s natural for one to choose hobbies that have little to do with their full-time jobs as hobbies are so often an escapism from that nine to five life.

Anyway, this is just a really roundabout way of saying that I’m making an active effort to write more outside of my full-time job and am now being reminded of what a great therapy writing is.

P.s.: I’ve just written a whole post about writing. yes, I do realise how incredibly meta that is. I’ll try to be better.

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