super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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Every time I hear someone say that running is bad for my knees, I want to knee them where it hurts to prove that my knees are actually just fine, thankyouverymuch.

But then other days, weird stuff happens. Meteorites fall on earth, a new Die Hard movie comes out, it rains spiders somewhere, the pope resigns like being the pope is just another office job, and I… I wake up all understanding and nice and stuff. On those weird days, I try to make sense of where those ideas come from.

It’s really easy to assume running is bad for your knees. Look at those hot runners pounding the ground like nobody’s business. It looks like hard work and those knees are getting the impact. But guess what? That’s what they’re designed to do.

Here’s a quick list of things that are bad for your knees: endless hours of sitting on the couch watching episodes of the Real Housewives of Whogivesacrap, getting attacked by a swarm of bees and having some of them sting your knees (now say that last one really fast), getting into a bar fight and getting a bullet right on the knee cap, wrestling a bear and having the bear grab you by the knees and crushing your knee caps with its own giant bear paws. I could go on but I think I’ve made my point. Notice anything missing from that list? Exactly.

What really gets me is that it’s always those with no real health credentials that seem to have instant PhDs in this topic – they are always the outspoken, know-it-all ones. If it’s okay with you, I’m only going to take medical advice from people who actually know what they’re talking about. Like my doctor, for example, who actually went to medical school and who has his own medical practice and who has even run a marathon. If the extent of your medical knowledge comes from about.com type sites or hours of watching Dr Oz, then I suggest you keep that advice to yourself because you might just be causing more harm than good.

The fact is that your body is not designed to be sitting around doing nothing. Moreover, doing that is precisely what causes damage to every single bone, tendon and muscle. Modern society has made it all really easy for us. Don’t get me wrong, I’d also love to have a robot that can pick up my ice cream from the freezer and bring it to me while I sit on the couch watching re-runs of How I Met Your Mother, with my knees safely tucked under the blankets. But if I ever get a robot like that (please, science, please please please!), then it better come coded with a function to also automatically turn on and off the oxygen mask I’ll soon be needing to help me breathe.

Exercise is not bad for you and I’m always shocked to find people spreading this stupid idea around, especially when obesity is at an all-time high (and you can’t tell me that carrying all the extra weight from all those burgers isn’t bad for your knees). “Oh but remember so and so, who died right after the marathon?” Hmm, yeah, thanks for that reminder. Also, exercise-related deaths are publicized precisely because they’re a rare occurrence. Don’t quote me on this statistic, since, other than my kilometers on the road, I have the health credentials of a hedgehog who drank too much Makers Mark (before they started diluting the stuff) but I’m pretty sure you are far more likely to die in your sleep than while exercising.

The key to this is the same key to everything else in life: moderation. A glass of wine won’t kill you (unless it gets thrown at you really hard, maybe). A lifetime as a raging alcoholic will probably cause a fair amount of damage. A marathon won’t kill you. Run double-digit miles every day for the rest of your life without a moment’s rest and, yeah, you might actually collapse.

If done in moderation, running is pretty much the best cardiovascular exercise you can possibly get. Not only that, your knees, like everything else in your body, can get stronger through exercise, if exercise is combined with the right amount of rest. It’s that rest period that strengthens everything, it completes the workout and makes sure you get the full effects of the exercise (and I’m not just saying this because I’m on day #2 of not running).

When was the last time you heard of research showing you that couch potatoes live longer and healthier lives than people who exercise? I don’t watch much daytime TV but I’m pretty sure that “Steve dramatically improved his health just by spending a mere two hours a day sitting down with a bowl of chips” isn’t a sentence that comes up very often. So where do these ideas come from?

Running looks like hard work (because it is). Hard work scares people. Except people don’t like admitting they’re scared of hard work so they come up with other reasons why they’re not doing it. “I’d love to run but it’s so bad for the knees” is a cop out. If you can’t run because you already have knee issues, that’s a different problem – but, in that case, running can’t be blamed for it anyway. It’s easier for people to find an excuse and pretend that there’s a higher reason they choose not to exercise, aside from their own laziness.

If it turns out that, by some miracle, they are right and all logical thinking along with everything we know about the human condition is actually flawed, then that’s okay. I’d rather live a long life with bad knees than a life that gets cut short because my sedentary lifestyle translated into heart and lung problems.

Now I better go get my own ice cream since science is stalling on that robot idea.

(If you want to read more from people who actually know what they’re talking about, I suggest reading stuff like this or this.)

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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.