Monday, October 31, 2011

Pre-pre-training plan!

Girl has to start somewhere – and somewhere for me is the pre-pre-training plan! I went a little crazy one morning and cranked out a training plan! Here is the first 11 weeks of training that will prepare me for a half marathon training plan.

Stretch  Strengthen
1.5 m run     
1 m run or cross
1.5 m run + strength
20 min cross
1.5 m run
Stretch Strengthen
1.5 m run
1 m run or cross
1.5 m run + strength
20 min cross
2 m run
Stretch Strengthen
1.5 m run
1.5 m run or cross
2 m run + strength
20 min cross
2 m run
Stretch  Strengthen
2 m run
1.5 m run or cross
2 m run + strength
20 min cross
2 m run
Stretch  Strengthen
2 m run
1.5 m run or cross
2 m run + strength
25 min cross
3 m run
Stretch  Strengthen
2 m run
2 m run or cross
2.5 m run + strength
25 min cross
3 m run
Stretch  Strengthen
2.5 m run
2 m run or cross
2.5 m run + strength
25 min cross
3 m run
Stretch Strengthen
2.5 m run
2 m run or cross
2.5 m run + strength
25 min cross
3.5 m run
Stretch  Strengthen
2.5 m run
2 m run or cross
3 m run + strength
30 min cross
3.5 m run
Stretch  Strengthen
3 m run
2 m run or cross
3 m run + strength
30 min cross
3.5 m run
Stretch  Strengthen
3 m run
2 m run or cross
3 m run + strength
30 min cross
4 m run

Very exciting, huh? This is adapted from Hal Higdon's plans. If you are a runner, I am sure you know of Hal! Hell, if you even thought about running enough to google couch to 5k, you probably know Hal!

Anyways, I thought a new running blog project would fun to track my training progress. You might be wondering – Ashley – what are you training for?

When I put together my plan I had a half and full marathon in mind. I now realize I have another commitment the day of the full I planned, so I am going to have to go back to the drawing board on that one. Regardless, the half I had planned is the Rite Aide Cleveland Half Marathon. I had done this distance before, I live in Cleveland, and I need a new fitness goal – low and behold my decision to train for this race. Simple, no?

Anyways, I thought it would be fun to recap on my training. Here is week one!

WEEK ONE: getting into the groove!
Monday – Stretch and strength
Wasn’t sure what to do, so basically layed aorund my floor stretching things out. I realized stretch and strength is code for yoga, which I plan to do from now on on these days.

Tuesday – 1.5 mi
Just a usual run, and it felt pretty good! This was my first run from work, and shower at work. I think I was more excited about the shower than the run.

Wednesday – 20 min kickboxing
… or in other words, searching clips of turbokick on YouTube and jumping around my office. Standard cross training.

Thursday – rest
Nuff said.

Friday – 1.5 mi run and DANCING
Felt good to get out and move on my run. I really got my workout that night at the halloween dance. I have the blisters to prove it.

Saturday – 30 minute elliptical and weights
Food network and weights more like it.

Sunday – 1.5 mi run
This was my easiest feeling 1.5 miler yet! I am excited to bring it up to 2 miles next week!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Out of my hands, off my shoulders

My biggest ah-ha moments tend to be after/during exercise. Maybe it is the lack of oxygen to my brain or something, but for whatever reason, when my body starts moving, so do the gear upstairs.

Point being – had an ah-ha moment today while working out. I started my evening with a little ashley-robics. I hope you don’t think I just made Ashley-robics up. They are in fact real, and I do them quite often.
Anyways, after jumping around my room for a little while I decided to cool down outside and headed outside for a walk. It rained a lot today, so everything looked glassy, with a blue and black tint. Kind of like in those film noir movies, when you see the lead character walking down the street alone at night.
In that moment, while walking around feeling my heartbeat slow down, I appreciated that while my exercise method of unconventional, it was effective. This made me think about another forms of exercise I love – running.
I love running, but there is something deeply competitive about it. Each time I set out for a run I am hoping it will be “good.” I guess good means fast, and pain free. A lot of runs aren’t good. My chest feels tight, my feet hurt, or something else in my body isn’t working right. In all of this I feel guilty.
I guess I never realized I felt guilty about my bad runs. This guilt comes from the fact I have a strong belief that I have control over my life. If I study hard, I will get a good grade. If I work hard, I will be able to find a job. If I treat my partner well, our relationship will work. This is all rather “pull yourself up from your boot straps-y” for someone as progressive as I am! I guess I allow other people to have flaws, but not myself.
Anyways, in that moment I realized, Ashley, you aren’t always in control, and therefore, you aren’t always to blame for mishaps.
For some people this revelations might feel like, well duh, but for me its huge. I have spent far too long worrying about what I did wrong. Somethings are out of my control, and all I can do is my best.
Maybe that pill I easier for other to swallow, but for me, it took an post-dancing sweaty haze to get it. A little Adele in the background helped too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Hello fitness fans! I give you the new revolution in fitness. Ashley-robics! Just follow the easy steps below.

1. Clear the room! Move all of your stuff out of the way. You are going to need a lot of space. Dopey face optional.


2. Literally google “top 40 music.” As you can see by the purple links, I do this often.


3. Click the songs you love. Start with Britney – you should always start with Britney, duh.


4. Dance. No, don’t dance, just MOVE. Move your arms, move and legs and just pump it! You will find on occasion your rhythmic pumping actually looks cool. Most of the time it just looks crazy. This is why we do this at home, and alone. I could seriously look at that last picture all day, so funny!



5. Take a break! You have been going hard! Catch your breath. Please note sweat, the program is working. Image102

6. Time to cool it down. Start by switching up the music source to Pandora. Make a “Rolling in the Deep” channel and play.

*Please note I have channels called “boy band bitch” and also “material girl.”


7. Turn down the lights, take slow breaths and stretch it out. This is the relaxation phase. Focus on where you are feeling tight and stretch. Mmmm… stretch. I am a fan of the slow moving dark room combination.


There you have it folks! A full workout with no gym, no equipment, no exercise instructors and no money. All it takes is a little sense of humor and good music. Oh, and internet… and Britney Spears. Again, always start with Britney Spears.


Chowey, sweat-ily signing off!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Finding balance

This past weekend I spent time reflecting on my work life balance. One thing stuck out to me – I know how to be happy, but I am not doing it. I am going to start moving back towards a life that makes me happy with a few small goals. I will explain more later.
First set of goals:
  • Schedule a weekly planning session on Sundays to plan and review my week
  • Track food and fitness on My Fitness Pal
  • Shoot for 8 hours of sleep a night
  • Journal 4 days a week focusing on emotions, challenges in balance, and positive thinking
This is all about making me a priority again, and learning how to reorganize my life as working girl Ashley, not student Ashley!
and your moment of Zen, Ashley getting down with the foam roller.
Foam rolling, the best part of the day!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bodies and Victim Blaming

I follow healthy living blogs. I also follow healthy-at-ever-size, or fat acceptance blogs. In reading these blogs I saw an interesting reaction to emotional triggers related to bodies.

One HAES blogger wrote a post the other day about an emotional trigger for her, bad pictures. I think this is very relatable.

Her response was to realize most bodies she sees do not look like hers. In addition, she does not spend much time on a regular basis looking at her own body. She notes that unless people spend time looking at their bodies in full length mirrors regularly, they might forget what they look like, and start to think their bodies look like ones they are visually exposed to. The bodies we are mainly exposed to come through mainstream media – ads, TV, magazines and so on. These bodies are not real, and they are usually unattainable and non-representative of the majority of people.

Some bloggers in the healthy living community also had recent experiences with triggers. One of the bloggers is pregnancy and talked about the difficulty of accepting that her clothes no longer fit. She expressed feeling upset loosing a body that she worked so hard to achieve and maintain. When she reached her pre-baby weight she vowed never to gain weight again. Obviously this isn’t possible during pregnancy. Another blogger wrote about feeling upset and shocked after stepping on a scale.

In these examples, women felt the blame or cause was not unrealistic images in the media, but instead themselves. The thought was that either they needed to just feel better about their bodies, or actively do something to change their bodies till they were happy with them.

Here is what I understood:

HAES blogger

  • cause of anxiety – a culture that only finds certain bodies acceptable, causes individuals to become disconnected from ]their own body.
  • solutions – normalize all bodies. This can mean taking time to actually look at your own body, or see other images of real bodies.

Healthy Living Bloggers

  • cause of anxiety – I am unhappy with my body.
  • Solution – learn to love my body, or change my body.

I feel blaming a person for feeling anxiety about their bodies is victim blaming. An individual is given a warped sense of what bodies should look like from being over exposed to certain bodies, and under exposed to others (ones that actually look more like theirs). Wrongfully, some argue being affected by these environmental factors makes an individual weak. They need to rise above these influences.

I can already hear voices saying – only a weak person would let images in the media impact their sense of self. Then the individual is told, be strong, foster body image and so on, but the root cause of the anxiety, societal pressures, unrealistic images, are never addressed.

Kind of sounds like this other example of victim blaming – you knew dressing that way made people think you wanted to have sex, you were “asking” to be sexually assaulted. That is victim blaming, and telling someone they are weak because they have body anxiety caused by a culture that promotes unrealistic bodies is also victim blaming.

The real solution to these problems is societal-level change in how we view and express bodies. Our society does not accept bodies unless they look a certain way. To create cultural change I need to normalize my body. There needs to be MORE pictures of my body, and people, including myself, need to look at them. One example of normalizing different bodies was Fa(t)shion February.

Ok, I am getting on a ramble – night folks.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Building a strong base

I don’t know when I wrote this – but it is wonderful. Thank you Ashley of the past for brightening my evening. Enjoy!

If I want to move forward on a journey towards improved health, I need to start by building a strong foundation to work from. Before I can try to improve my own health, I need to start believing that I have the capacity to improve my health. Therefore, I need to start by building confidence in myself and fostering a sense of self respect.

Recently I watched a show called “I Used to Be Fat.” There are a billion things wrong with that title, but that is another post. Anyways, the girl in the show wanted to run a sub 10 minute mile. During the show she pointed out that she has the physical capacity to run a sub 10 minute mile, but psychological barriers were keeping her from reaching that goal.

Sometimes I wonder if my slips and falls along my journey have created self doubt and psychological barriers to improving my health.

While I lack confidence in my abilities, time and time again I have proven myself wrong. Only 6 months ago I thought I would never get a job related to sexual health, but here I am typing this blog during one of my breaks between sexual health education classes. I ran a half marathon, went to graduate school and lobbied congress. When I was younger, not even in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I could do all of those things. But I did, so its time to stop the doubt and start trusting my ability and capacity to achieve and succeed when it comes to health, and all other areas of my life.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Imagine you are going for a run. There you are, jogging along having a good time. You have your iPod on and Miley Cyrus is blasting. It is a cool 60 degrees on a June night. Then you see this …


This is what I ran into last week. I later talked to my landlord and learned that they are filming a movie down the street from us. How cool! Cleveland has a tax credit for film production that brings many studios to the city to film.

After a little googling I cam across the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. The web site lists all the films that are being produced in Cleveland, and also about local positions available through the film project.

The movie they are filming down the street from me is called Fun Size. The film features Victoria Justice. Yeah, I guess she has a show on Nickelodeon. Here is more info on the movie:

“sarcastic teenage girl who is forced to take her little brother trick-or-treating on Halloween, then loses him and must find him before their mother finds out. It is described as a cross between Superbad and Adventures in Babysitting.”


Superbad meets Adventures in Babysitting? I am skeptial. Whatever, I will totally go see it, I saw where it was filmed!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Checking out this week

Enough said. If Ohio legislators would stop attacking women maybe I could blog more.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jog dancing

This is what happens when I go for a run.

First I get all jog attired out. You know, sports bra made of steel, spandex all over, and way to expensive shoes. I make sure I have my key, put some rocking tunes on my iPod and then open up the old air ways. Thank goodness of inhalers! This is what the “making-sure-I-care-breath” part of the process looks like.


OK good, lungs work. Also note the misplacement of my broken eyeball. How glorious.

Now most of the time I just run. You know, the typical one leg in front of the other thing. Other times jog dancing happens. There are no words to explain jog dance. Just watch.

Dance jogging as performed by Chowey

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Five Chowey Favs –June 19th (21st) edition

This is out of order, but Sunday (or Monday, not sure yet) I want to start posting my top 5 favorite things from the past week. Here are my favorite moments from last week. PS – I will get better at this the more I do it, right?


GLEE! Second best concert (N SYNC always first!)


Getting back into running


Reading for fun


Cuddle time with Kevin


Getting enough SLEEP!

My Big Bliss experience

Whenever I got to Toledo I watch unnecessary amounts of TLC and HGTV. After a long week, I love vegging out to an episode of Say Yes to the Dress on a Friday night. I could write a whole book (and maybe somebody has) detailing feminist critiques of that show and wedding culture. Regardless, its my guilty pleasure.

(source, source)

This past weekend I was in Toledo and enjoyed my usual dose of cable TV. Friday night after a few episode of Say Yes to the Dress a new show came on. It was a spin off of Say Yes to the Dress featuring plus size brides, called Big Bliss.

I felt so angry watching this show. Woman after woman came into the shop and express their inability to find themselves beautiful. They would put on amazing dress after amazing dress and still look in the mirror and feel terrible.

They hated the way they looked, hated their bodies, and in turn, hated themselves. I found all of them beautiful. I understand beauty is subjective, but still in each woman I saw grace, elegance, and style. No – I saw a PERSON who had value and deserved dignity. It was literally painful to see the self hate.

Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss Clip

The whole thing made me angry. 

I was angry at a wedding industry that says only thin brides are beautiful. I was angry at the fashion industry that doesn’t make clothes that fit all people, and perpetuates unreal expectations of beauty. To me the world needs to change not these women, yet I am sure other viewers felt exactly the opposite. I hated that other people are watching this show and victim blaming. I can see them now saying to a friend, if only they would lose 50 or 60 pounds they wouldn’t have a problem. Even the comments on the video posted above made my blood boil.

These women don’t need to change, the world that creates stereotypes, stigmatizes, and disenfranchises people based on the size of their body needs to change. This is blatant discrimination and should not be tolerated. In my rage I vowed to never let anything, a dress, an industry, or a society make me hate myself and my body. I am, like every other person, too valuable to be minimized in this way.

I haven’t mentioned this lately on this blog but personally my body has been changing. I have alluded to the terrible eating and inactivity habits I adapted while trying to finish school and find a job. My clothes fits differently so I was aware my body had changed, but this weekend I became strikingly aware to the magnitude by which my body had changed.


This realization came at the mall. I went to the mall to spend a coupon I received for my birthday. I was excited to go to the mall and find some new clothes. When I got there I grab literally two arm loads of clothes, and rushed to the changing room. There were so many things on the rack I loved. I thought that I had hit the jackpot.

But then, shirt, after pants, after dress – nothing fit. Not one item I brought in fit. I knew my body had changed, I even made sure to get bigger sizes than I would have 6 months again, but still not one item fit.
I was paralyzed. Less than 12 hours ago I watched women go through these terrible shopping experiences that inevitably fueled their body hate. Less than 12 hours ago I vowed never to let something as silly as a dress make me feel less valuable. Yet there I was, exactly in their shoes.  I was ashamed, frustrated and sad.

I went back out to the store floor determined to feel better. I grabbed more clothes, in even bigger sizes, and even grabbed clothes that wouldn’t traditionally be considered “flatter” for a woman my size. Specifically I grabbed a white dress. I got a size I knew would fit, and rushed back into the dressing room.

Some of the clothes looked ok, and they now fit, but there still was no wow. The usual rush and excitement of new clothes was gone. I was too far in the hole by this point. The last item I tired on was the white dress. It fit well and was comfortable, but still all I saw in the mirror were my flaws. The rolls of fat on my back, the bludges around my hips. There I was, in a dressing room, in a white dress, feeling exactly like those women on TV, also in a dressing room, in a white dress.

I don’t have any answers or profound statements about this experience. I am still processing all my emotions and perceptions.

I guess I wanted to share this story because I know I am not alone in these feelings. I hope to keep thinking about this experience and figure out where I can grow from it. Right now I still feel hurt. I am hoping that time will bring wisdom, and I can share that wisdom here.

I guess the only advice I can give, and am giving to my self, is to not give up. I need to stand strong in my beliefs and figure out how I can use my skills in self reflection, self care, and social justice to address this problem. If anything I hope sharing this story makes others feel less alone, and make people aware that if you feel this way, there is someone with you in your corner trying to find a way to make things better – whatever that means.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weiner resignation represents culture around sex

I am upset Representative Anthony Weiner resigned.

How can congress demand he resign, but not expect the same from others who did similar, if not worse, things. Yes I’m looking at your David Vitter. Rep. Weiner also was a strong progressive voice. He spoke up on issues I care deeply about, when others would not.

What upsets me the most about the Weiner resignation is that is demonstrates the inability of US culture to accept the ways in which people use their bodies and express themselves sexually.

He sent pictures of his body to other people and also had sexual conversations with them. This behavior disgusted people around the country. My question is, what’s the problem? His interactions were consensual and surely uncommon. 

These were extramarital exchanges, but I argue that was not what really bothered people. What bothered them was that he was expressing his body and his sexuality in a way that is not accepted in mainstream culture.

This is why the resignation is bad. The same culture force that ousted Wiener is the same force that tells women if they dress a certain way they should expect to be assaulted, and that only heterosexual relationship warrant marriage.

This is the force I face every day advocating for access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare services and effective sexual health education. The Weiner resignation represents that again the US let our inability to accept people and their sexual expression get in the way of good public policies, and politicians that stand up for them.

Excellent coverage from Rachel Maddow:

Rachel Maddow Show

A reminder of the voice that will be gone without Rep. Weiner.

Anthony Weiner during healthcare debates

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What I love about out of shape running

I am really out of shape. That is not some self hating criticism – it’s fact. I took about 2 months off from exercise during the crisis which was graduating from school. I just went for a run and it was rough, but good.

Also note – with out these people I would never exercise.


(source, source, source, source)

The run tonight reminded me why I love out of shape running.

Perspective on mileage

When you are training for a big race, the mileage gets high. I half trained for a full marathon, and completed one half marathon. I was running 20-30 miles a week while training for those races. While training you lose perspective on how much you are really running. I remember feeling complete defeated because I cut an 11 mile run short and only ran 7 miles. I felt bad because I could only run 7 miles? Yeah, that’s messed up. Starting back at square one makes you proud of what you did than, and proud of the little you can do now.

Respect for the fitness I once had

Also while training, or just when in really good shape, I never really understand how fit I am. There was a time in grad school I was teaching abs, Pilates, and yoga, strength training pretty intensely 3-4 times a week and running 15-20 miles a week. Whoa, I was like beast woman, but at the time I didn’t appreciate it. Being out of shape gives me perspective on what it means to be fit, and I take that perspective with me as my body does begin to change.

life isn't over if I lose fitness

When I am really fit I think, oh, I will NEVER be out of shape again. Ha, I laugh at that statement! Life is full of unknown challenges that can make it difficult to stay fit. Yes fit people, there might be a time you are injured, or busy doing other things. Yes, there are other things to life than fitness. The best thing about running is even when I leave it for a while, it is always right there for me to return to. After committing for a few weeks consistently the fitness comes back. Its not like magic, it all makes a lot of sense.

Remembering what is all about

When I am out of shape I don’t map my routes, monitor my pace, or set mileage or time goals – I just run. I focus on moving my legs, and finishing. A lot of this is freeing, knowing that my only goal is to not face plant. It reminds me why I love to run. it makes me happy to just move my body, listen to music and let my mind slip away. This time is just for me, no one else. It is great to feel this reconnection to the sport I love.

All in all today’s run was rough, but it was relaxing and motivating. What more can I ask for right?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Time for grad school recovery

The last few months have been all consumed by grad school. During that whole process I felt  like this:


And I had to see things like this, which I hoped to never see again.


Oh silly pre-grad school Ashley would probably see that stack of books and think, oh wow cool! I want to learn those things! Post-grad school Ashley mainly thinks, OMG vomit, get those out of my face.

Anyways as of yesterday all my paper work has been turned in and signed. I am done. D-O-N-E baby, yeah! Now I feel like this:


If you are wondering, yes that is my computer mouse in my hand. I am sure there is some fancy way to time photos with my webcam but I haven’t figured it out yet.

Please, stare at those for a long time. They get better the more you look at them.

Now that I am done with grad school I am left with the sad sack of human that was chewed up and spit out by the fine institution I attended. Needless to say during the process of …

  • Getting a new job
  • Fighting the federal government trying to take away healthcare from women
  • getting another new job
  • conducting and analyzing research data
  • writing my culminating
  • writing my culminating again after getting it chewed up and spit back in my face by again that fine institution I attended
  • Doing other weird things – lobbying, testifying and so on

… there was little self care. I went from a 85% vegan to a 100% pizza, fast food and whatever else was cheap and would fit into my mouth kind of eater. I also went from 8 weeks into a marathon training plan to absolutely no exercise.

Correct, NONE. That is pretty impressive really.

Now it is time to pick up the pieces and make my next moves when it comes to self care. During this whole process I learned a lot. I have changed my views about healthy living, well really living in general, and thus also what the purpose of this blog will be.

I am off for a run to try to get myself back into some regular fitness schedule. Look forward to more posts about my adventures in trying to figure out how to live like a human being again.

And now your moment of Zen, a sparkly GIF in honor of my shiny new degree. PS – nothing says higher education like sparkly GIFs!

(source )