Adventures in the No Body-Snark Diet

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Sally over at UnbraveGirl. It might be because she’s a super-fun award-winning travel blogger, but I think it’s mostly because we’ve eaten something that looks like this:

Yes, it’s a giant stack of bread covered in ice cream and honey

In a place with decor like this:

Yes, it’s a giant yellow dog-man guarding our giant stack of ice-cream bread.
That’s not an encounter you’ll easily forget.
In fact, it’s how life-long “I’ll-read-your-blog-forever” bonds are formed.

Last Thursday, Sally threw down the gauntlet and issued this 2-part challenge. It was a challenge that struck a chord with her readers, set bloggers abuzz, and prompted a gazillion* responses. 
(* Actual numbers used anywhere in this blog are always either approximations or completely made up.)

Sally’s 2-part challenge got me thinking about 3 things. (I warned you, numbers around here can be a little sketchy.)

Thing #1: 

I don’t usually write about deep-down serious stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned a reason, but it’s  mostly because funny stories will always be funny stories. (Well, funny for you maybe. You’re not the one who had ants in their pants.)

However, unlike some types of cheese, my writing about heart swelling feelings’n’such, (cue melodramatic 7th grade diary) or issues of sober importance and solemnity (cue pretentious undergraduate essays), don’t get better with age. I cringe when I re-read serious things I’ve written after days, weeks or years have passed. I cringe because my fiery rhetoric has mellowed, my opinions have matured, or I’ve realized that my 7th grade heart-throb is actually a bit of a chowder-head.

But once it’s out there – in print – it’s too late to take it back.

If I wrote about such things here, I’d either have to put genuine thought into them, or else I’d be issuing caveats, apologies and clarifications all. the. time. So, I try to reserve this space for lighthearted musings.

In the days ahead, that might start to change – but not too much, and not too quickly. If that giant stack of ice-cream bread I shared with Sally taught me anything, it’s that moderation is key.

Thing #2: 

When Sally issued the challenge to post honest-to-goodness full-body photos, I didn’t think I shied away from posting unflattering pictures of myself. (No, I won’t provide a link to November 2nd, 2006. It’s really that terrible. Honestly.) However, I just went through my entire archive, and realized that in the ten years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve only published one full-on full-length photo of myself…and that was from a costume party in 2005, so I didn’t even look like myself. I’ve always made up some excuse about why the full-on photos never make the cut, but it actually has very little to do with artistic merit, and much more to do with the fact that I don’t like the way I look in them.

Thing #3:

This body has stuck with me for a loooong time, even after I uprooted it, and dragged it through 13 countries over the past 14 years. Sure, it gets banged up now and again…

Working on a campus with a great special-ed program and extra wheelchairs available had some perks when I took a spill on the ski hill!

…but that’s because it agrees to let me do wonderful things like go skiing, and scuba diving, and rock climbing, and horseback riding, and kayaking, and skydiving. (It doesn’t agree to let me sing Karaoke in public, but that’s probably a Very Good Thing. Thank you, body.)

It even lets me enter the Run for Relief every year. Why have you never seen me mention the Run for Relief on my blog? Primarily because the plight of displaced people in Burma is a serious issue (see Thing #1). Secondly, even though I spend the entire race thinking about, and praying for, people in Burma who are forced to run for their very lives, as soon as I see post-run pictures, I immediately focus on how much weight I’ve lost (or gained) since the previous year (see Thing #2).

So, to participate in Unbrave Girl’s very brave No Body-Snark Diet challenge, I will:

1. Stop being a jerk to myself, and quit referring to my participation in the Run for Relief as my Waddle for Relief.

2. Post a full-on picture of myself finishing the race:

Sure, I’m disappointed that I was slower than the year before, and walked a little more than I ran…but that’s not the point. It was never the point.

As I’ve been writing this post, a funny thing has happened. As I’ve taken a moment to focus on all the great things my body lets me do, I want to take better care of it. I don’t want to chastise it for picking up a few pounds over the years, and shame it into shedding them. Instead, I want to reward it with tons of vegetables and healthy things. Why? Because it’s an aging machine that’s faithfully allowed me to do things I love for a bazillion years. I don’t want to force it to be smaller so I can fit into skinny jeans, I want to keep it healthy so it will let me keep on adventuring.

But if Unbrave Girl ever comes back to town, I’d totally share another giant stack of ice-cream bread with her.

Adventures in a Body of Lies

Nope, I’m not talking about the movie Body of Lies that’s full of A-list actors. I’m talking the actual body of a B-list blogger. 

Last week, I had one of those days where I managed to actually find my way to the gym. As I was stretching out after the workout, (actually, I was laying flat on my back wondering if the sweat pooling under me would leave a crime-scene style outline on the floor when I stood up), I overheard a trainer offer this advice to someone:

Just Listen To Your Body.

We’ve all heard this advice at one point or another, and unaccountably, people seem to think it’s good advice. Either everyone is in denial, or I happen to be living in a defective body model. Why? Because my body lies to me. All. The. Time.

After all, it was the mouth in this body that told me a 2nd slice of pie would be a really good idea, and that a bowl of ice cream makes a great breakfast. It was listening to this body that landed me at the gym in the first place…and that same body shouts at me when I exercise.

It’s not just about food and fitness. My other body parts lie to me too.

It was my legs, back in the ’80s that said, “I wanna run free – neon orange Hammer Pants are the pants for me!” In fact, most of my appendages have been lying to me about fashion  for decades.

What? My body told me this was a great beach look!

Sometimes, my body parts even collaborate and come up with tag-team lies. This morning, my nose and my brain got together and created an elaborate falsehood.

Two hours before my alarm went off, my nose woke me up by smelling something odd. “Wake up! Something’s burning!” it said to me. My nose then tagged out, and my brain jumped in the ring. “Yes! Wake up! Keebler Elves are burning flour in your kitchen. The cookies will be ruined!”


Thanks to my body’s lies, I was fully awake before realizing that there was no Keebler cookie emergency. There were no cookies involved at all. It was just a bad pollution day here in Chiang Mai, and the only thing burning were farmer’s fields, 30km away.

Next time someone tells me to Listen to my Body, I’m pretty sure my right foot is going to tell me to kick a nearby shin. Unfortunately, the way my body communicates, it will likely tell me to kick my own shin. And I’ll listen to it.