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When do I graduate?

When I first graduated from college, I entered a period of my life where my learning was no longer institutionalized. It was up to me to seek out new knowledge simply because I wanted to and not because I needed to write a term paper on the topic the night before it was due. I suppose I could write a term paper, but who would I turn it in to? My old professors would probably get worried if I started slipping five page double-spaced essays under their office doors and started hanging out in the parking lot saying I used to go here. That’s what MFA programs are for!

No matter how much weight I lose, I’m always learning new things about health and fitness. For example, I just bought a new pair of running shoes because my old ones had worn through the inner lining on the heel. This has happened before and I just assumed my feet were deformed and misshapen and narrow in the heel. I was just grateful I didn’t have cloven feet or have to nail horseshoes onto my hooves. It’s so hard to find a good blacksmith these days. But as I was tying my new shoes, I decided to lace them up all the way to the top instead of stopping on the second to last hole as I usually do. I’d never laced my shoes up all the way because that made them too tight to slip my feet into in the mornings without having to untie and retie the whole thing.

Yes, I am too lazy to tie my shoes. Take it as proof that even lazy people can lose weight.

After I laced my shoes up, I ran on the trail and realized my shoes were clinging tightly to the back of my foot instead of being slightly loose as they had always been. I felt like a dope. Too bad the conflict in the Middle East isn’t as easy a problem to solve as that was. I don’t know how many hundreds of miles I’ve traveled with my improperly laced footwear. I can only hope two years from now I don’t discover I’ve been doing something equally foolish like drinking water from the wrong side of the cup, at least when I wasn’t trying to get rid of the hiccups.

One of the things that was so overwhelming about starting a new diet and fitness regime was that there was so much to learn. It seemed impossible to figure anything out without getting a degree as a registered dietician, which sounds like it would require more term papers and schoolin’. I had no idea how much protein, carbs, fat, or sodium most foods had when I started eating right. Was I absent the day in health class when they taught this? I only learned cottage cheese was high in protein last year. Don’t get me started on the complexities of oatmeal – steel cut oats, quick oats, rolled oats, instant oats. There’s a 3 credit hour class right there. And did you know there are two categories of squash, winter and summer? They’re just like the fairy kingdoms! I just found out zucchini qualifies as a squash, which shocked me as much as the time I found out my uncle is a Republican.

In other areas of life, if you don’t understand a topic you can hire someone to understand it for you while you do fun things like play video games. Lawyers and accountants make their living understanding complex systems like the legal system and the tax code so we don’t have to. But when it comes to health you have to figure out the complex system of your body by yourself. You can’t pay the smart kid $20 to do your homework. You can’t hire someone to eat and exercise for you. I am frequently blown away by how much some of my fellow bloggers know about how the body responds to different forms of exercise or their vast food and cooking knowledge. I feel like a dumbf*ck sometimes in comparison.

I don’t think I ever get to graduate when it comes to health and fitness. I just keep adding more credit hours and majors to my coursework. And I’m stuck doing homework for the rest of my life. But at least now I know how to tie my shoes.

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Lose Weight With Me • April 3, 2007 at 8:50 am

Excellent post.

I agree, I don’t think we ever graduate when it comes to weight loss and fitness. The continuing education credits we earn ensure that we continue to achieve our weight loss and fitness goals.



Debbi • April 3, 2007 at 9:15 am

Being teachable is such a useful life skill. And I know a good blacksmith if you’re in the market. Heh.


BrightAngel • April 3, 2007 at 9:32 am

I’ve found it necessary to view the whole food/exercise/diet thing as a HOBBY, and treat it like one. Since 9/20/04, I’ve lost 80 lbs down to 109.6 today (I’m 5’0″) and now have kept it off for over 14 months. I keep careful track of my food and exercise; play with charts & graphs; gather new information constantly on foods, nutrition, exercise etc.

Incidentally, for the past 926 consecutive days, I’ve logged all my food into a software program called Diet Power, which shows calorie counts and nutritional information. I found it on the Internet and paid around $70 for it. I recommend that anyone interested go to their website @ dietpower.com and check it out. It has really been a help to me.


PastaQueen • April 3, 2007 at 9:35 am

BrightAngel – Heh, sometimes when people ask me what my hobbies are I wonder to myself “Does dieting count?” The amount of time I spend exercising and cooking surely qualifies it as a hobby, right? I don’t spend this much time crocheting.


psychsarah • April 3, 2007 at 9:46 am

I love the analogy of “graduating”. I’m still in school-almost done my PhD-thank godd-so that will be done soon, but I feel like I’ll never stop learning about food/fitness. I agree with other commenters that it is a hobby. I never thought I’d be one to write “fitness” or “nutrition” in my list of interests, but that day has apparently come! I probably spend as much time on these pursuits as my PhD some days! Thanks for the great perspective as usual Pastaqueen!


Allison • April 3, 2007 at 10:21 am

Well, you can hire personal trainers–some are also qualified to create meal plans. Or you can go to a nutritionist, or a dietician. True, they can’t DO the exercise or eating for you, but they can help you prepare.

Also the Food Network is an excellent resource for learning about food. Healthy Eating with Ellie Kreiger is good if you just want to learn about healthy foods (she explains good fats, nutrients, anti-oxidents etc in her meals) and Good Eats with Alton Brown is good for just knowing everything about food. (He explains why tomatoes in the super market taste god awful–they’re “colored” after being picked green. Basically the science behind food and cooking.)

I’m addicted to the Food Network and know more about cooking than I ever thought I would. Who says you can’t learn anything from the TV? ;)


Kyra • April 3, 2007 at 10:26 am

I got so fed up trying to figure everything out, that I DID take a course. I got certified as a personal trainer more to just figure this out once and for all, than for any other reason. I agree, it’s mindboggling!

And the shoe thing? Every shoe can be tied 100 different ways too. I’m still struggling over the whole bunny-lacing thing.


Hilly • April 3, 2007 at 10:50 am

I wholeheartedly agree with you. If we are truly trying to make a lifestyle change and stay fit, then we will evolve and try new things our whole lives. I kinda like it that way though :).


digsite • April 3, 2007 at 11:03 am

Well I’m glad you learned how to tie your shoes finally after 20+ years! lol! I personally need to keep my sneakers on a little loose on the top because it seems I have veins running down the top that get cut off if my shoes’ on to snugly. My entire feet actually start to hurt and throb because blood can’t flow. strange, huh?


Jessica • April 3, 2007 at 12:39 pm

“It’s so hard to find a good blacksmith these days.”


Deirdre • April 3, 2007 at 12:48 pm

I walk rather than run, but I order my shoes with velcro. Wonderful stuff velcro.

NB Web Express is the New Balance shoes site. They discribe their lasts, and you can search for shoes by last. The SL2 last has an extra wide and deep toe box with a narrow heel. It’s great to have shoes that fit properly.

This eating right and exercising really has become a hobby, but while there is some cachet to saying your hobby is running and bodybuilding, it sounds funny when you say it’s walking and going to Curves.



Cousin Al • April 3, 2007 at 1:11 pm

What’s the verdict on the other six uncles? I bet there are more Republicans hiding in there.


PastaQueen • April 3, 2007 at 1:41 pm

Cousin Al – I was referring to my paternal uncle, but I’m starting to realize there are some black sheep (black elephants?) on the maternal side too. I’m beginning to think I just don’t want to know.


Ellen • April 3, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Yeah, seriously, you are going to have a PhD in diet and exercise from the University of Life. I know exactly what you mean about being overwhelmed and realizing there is so much to know. And, there’s so much conflicting information that is touted by different people that it really takes massive effort to find the truth for yourself. Or, whatever version of the truth works for you. It is reassuring to know that even major weight loss successes, like you, are still figuring some things out!


Chris H • April 3, 2007 at 4:11 pm

I’ll keep it short… you are a dork! Fancy never tying your shoelaces properly till now.. ha ha ha. Too funny. And… we are constantly learning new stuff about ourselves… ain’t it great?


Aimee • April 4, 2007 at 12:17 am

I just came across your blog tonight. You look awesome! Congratulations on your weight loss!


Ex Sci • April 4, 2007 at 12:42 am

These entries have reminded me of a time when I said something really thoughtless and stupid. I have an exercise science degree, a national personal training certification, and extra coursework in nutrition. I eat, breath, and sleep this stuff. I look at the info all day long, I do research, I am constantly surrounded by fitness and exercise facts.

A few months ago, I spoke (in passing) with two different women, within one day of each other. One of them said to me, “My doctor told me I need to lose weight, but he didn’t tell me how to do it.” My immediate (and inappropriate) response was “Oh, everyone knows how to lose weight. You just have to eat less and move more.” She gave me such a look.

The next day another woman was so excited as she told me all about a new book – The Three Hour Diet. I told her that the theory behind this book was nothing new – it’s been around a long time- and it works for some people and not for others. I think I squashed her enthusiasm, and I have been sorry about it ever since.

What I learned from these two conversations is that I had taken my knowledge for granted, and I think that since all of this stuff is so ingrained inside of me and I see it printed and published everywhere, it is hard for me to imagine that people really don’t know this stuff. But, most really don’t. I have promised myself that I will never again make a comment that could discourage a person who is trying to find answers to the fitness and nutrition puzzle. I will be more careful with my approach and share knowledge in a friendly, helpful way.

Whew, that was long. Love all the comments.


Anissa • April 4, 2007 at 12:50 am

I guess I look at it like if it were easy then weight wouldn’t be an issue for everyone! You are doing so good though you have to feel like you’ve really made a breakthrough!


Marla • April 4, 2007 at 7:10 am

Hilarious! The first thing I did was go check to see where I lace my running shoes. I seem to be doing it right.

I love the description of fitness as a hobby :) There really is an enormous amount to know, but fortunately one doesn’t need to learn it all at once.


Amy • April 4, 2007 at 8:31 am

i never knew anyone could be so excited about zucchini, good for you. it’s a prolific grower if you can pot garden in your apartment, you’ll be running from it soon.


lovelines • April 5, 2007 at 5:01 am

I love learning about fitness, though, especially through blogs. It seems the more blogs I stumble across, the more I learn about ways to keep healthy and (of course) lose weight. Your blog has definitely been a great help, both for information and inspiration.


Rachel • April 5, 2007 at 9:01 am

When I first tried to lose weight in my early ’20s, I weighed 300 pounds. I had no clue what a calorie was. We never really learned about nutrition in the half-year Health class we had in high school. I really do think health and nutrition ought to be emphasized more in public education.


Lauren • April 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Shoes are obviously very important when running. And you probably don’t know this, but women tend to have feet that are narrower at the heel than men’s are. This is why wearing men’s shoes is never a good idea. Also, because some women’s heels can be pretty thin and the shoes might not fit right because of it, there is a special way to lace your shoes so that it will be tighter around the heel. It’s hard to explain, but you can find info about it at http://www.runnersworld.com/

I also used to be dead-set determined to never have to tie my shoes more than once. But it really does wear your shoes out very badly and like you pointed out can cause them to loosen and this can lead to problems. So ever since I bought my first real pair of running shoes I have been sure to untie when I take them off and retie when I put them on. It’s worth the extra 30 seconds =)


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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