Monday, 23 May 2011

I'm not a genetic freak, I am actually a super hero

Alright people brace yourselves, things are about to get geeky!

This is a side of myself that I tend to keep under wraps, but I have decided to let you all in on a little secret...I am a serious comic book nerd. I might even go so far as to refer to myself as a "Fan Girl" - if that is even a genuine term. By geeky I mean, "I have a legitimate lifetime membership to the comic book store up the street" (*insert shout out to Paradise Comics here) kind of geeky, so...yeah...like I said brace yourself!

My husband and I went to see Thor a couple weekends ago (which was fabulous by the way - despite not staying entirely true to the source material), and on the car ride home our discussion inevitably digressed into comic book geek-dom and we stumbled across some fabulous genetic disasters who are quite prominent in the super hero world. Leading me to think that perhaps my love of this genre stems from some sort of strong affinity felt towards these characters, and the hope that what can seem like a curse initially can actually become your greatest source of power. So with that in mind, I proudly present "I am not a a genetic freak, I am actually a super hero"...

Next level of Evolution?
Team Genetics:
X-Men immediately come to mind when we start talking about genetic mutations. All of these characters possess the X-gene, a genetic trait that allows them develop superhuman powers and abilities. Unlike most Marvel superheroes who develop their powers as a direct result of exposure to some kind of outside stimuli, the X-men are born with the genetic potential to possess their powers. Does all of this sound familiar, are you beginning to see how I relate? I also have specific gene that has caused my heart condition to manifest, and like all of the best kinds of genetic mutations, their mutant powers don't typically manifest until late adolescence. The X-men all struggle to come to terms with their genetic differences. They struggle to overcome their genetic short-comings and harnesses their power for the good of everyone. They all just want to be normal, something all of us genetic mutants can relate to.

Team Cyborg
Team Heart:
Iron Man and I are definitely built from the same mold, or at least we both share a mechanical heart. His magnetic mechanism keeps the shrapnel from entering his heart, and mine just keeps it beating regularly. It is because of this device and his traumatic experience that Tony Stark realizes his true potential and harnesses his abilities to become one bad-ass crime fighting machine. Taking his cyborg nature to a whole other level. My hope is that through my device and my own experiences that I can learn to embrace my Darwinian failings and show everyone (including myself) that "endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory". I want to turn what 
Hulking Out!
could be seen as a negative experience in one that can be a true testament of strength. And kick some genetic ass while I am at it!

Edward Norton's interpretation of the Hulk was one that I especially enjoyed, and could relate to. Mostly because he has to run around with a heart rate monitor for the entire movie to ensure he avoids turning into the Hulk at inopportune. This is an experience I can connect with. When I hit the pavement I will never leave home without my trusty heart rate monitor. I mentioned in a previous post that my heart rate runs high when I am exercising, but there are drawbacks to having it run too high. I have in the past inadvertently tested out the defibrillation capabilities of my device, and that is not something I am eager to repeat. The zap your body gets to try to correct a heart rate that is beating too fast feels a bit like being hit between the shoulders with a 2x4. A sensation I now lovingly refer to as "Hulking Out". Needless to say, after that little adventure we changed the thresholds on my device for one better suited to the needs of an active 20 something girl. UGH! And I now ensure that my heart rate stays in a happy place, below 200 - the same number as my hulky super hero.

Team Boobies:

Wonder Woman are those real?
My love of the superhero genre inevitably began where it is likely to begin for most girls, with Wonder Woman. She's an Amazon Princess, sent to earth with the mission of bringing the Amazon ideals of love, peace, and sexual equality to a world torn apart by the hatred of men. She is a feminist's dream and sexy to boot. She is everything you would ever want to be and then some, but I think we can all agree that those proportions are not realistic. No woman has boobs that perfect. And if your waist is that small, well then your curves are not going to be quite so voluptuous. Thus, leading me to speculate that she's probably had some work done. And that her and Power Girl probably have the same plastic surgeon. I mean come on boys, could you make it any more obvious that the comic book world is largely dominated by the fantasies of men? However, if fake boobies are okay for Wonder Woman, than I guess they will work for me too. Who knows, maybe they may just end up being my best assets and source of strength in my own battle against genetics.
Umm...enough said

Well I think we can all agree that the fantasy world created by these comic book characters tends to straddle a fine line between moderately ridiculous and widly so, yet there are still lessons to be learned. It should be clear by now that the super hero world is dominated by those characters forced to choose an atypical and difficult path, while still longing for a normal life. It this through these challenges that these characters come to relaize their true potential and harness their inner strength and ability, and it is my hope that this is where our greatest similarities will lie.

Love Your favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Streaking Update - Week 1

Happy Long Weekend Friends!

Week 1 has come and gone, and I think I did pretty good. I ran 40 km this week, which still puts me short by 10 km - but I feel relatively okay with that.

This week was crazy- life-wise - for me. I had a mid-term Wednesday, and I definitely burnt myself out early in the week with early AM studying session before work and late night library visits after class, so the fact that I still went running 4 out of 7 days is alright by me. Under normal circumstances I probably would have thrown running out the window all together, so baby steps...

This weekend I didn't do much in the way of exercise or nutrition. I spent time with great friends, had some drinks, had some laughs, and slept in all weekend. But it was a must in terms of nuturing my spirit. I feel refeshed and happy and ready to face the world again.

My next race is 3 weeks away, I am running a 10 km race for Breast Cancer on June 11th, and I am admittedly started to get pumped! (Speaking of which is you would like to help me fundraising please go to https://www.giving.runningroom.com/hm/?sub=3&charityId=140&id=VjVRZAJiBWE%3D&item=8&guest=1&lan=1 every little bit helps!) This week I am planning to do some serious long distance running, mixed with strength trainning, and cross trainning. So this week's mini-goal is more specific.

Run a Total of 45 km
2 Strength Training Sessions
2 Cross Training Sessions

Wish me luck, I am heading out to run my longest distance run to-date 15 km. So let's go streaking! You can bring your green hat too!

Love your favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Let's Streak!

I was leafing through my May edition of Runner's World yesterday, and I stumbled upon an article I had skipped. The title immediately grabbed me, "The Streaker". It seemed intriguing to say the least. It was written by this guy named Adam Buckley, and his New Years resolution for 2009 was to set out and run every day for a whole year. Impressive, right? Needless to say he did it, I mean obviously - that is why his story is in Runner's World.

I am not going to lie, I find this feat quite extraordinary! Consistency is an area I definitely struggle with. I always start out the week with the best of intentions, sometimes I hit my goal, but for the most part there are at the very least one or two workouts that get skipped.

I like to say it is because my schedule is kind of crazy, which is not a total lie. I work full time, I am also doing my second degree in psychology at night, plus there are all of the usual family/friend commitments - so saying I am too busy to hit the pavement everyday does have some legitimacy. However, life doesn't seem to be getting any less hectic anytime soon. So at some point you have to say that you are making that time a priority and just go for it. And this year I have said I making health a priority, so let's go for it!

While I would love to say I will follow Adam Buckley example and lace up my sneakers every morning, I don't think that is realistic for me. Instead each week I am going to make a mini-goal to strive for and update you all on my progress. Let's see how long I can keep this streak going. This way I can keep my schedule restraints in mind, and not feel like I have to sacrifice any of my other commitments.

This Week's Goal is to Log a Total of 50 km.

I will update everyone on my progress with my first mini-goal on Saturday May 20th. Wish me luck!

Love,
Your favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Stress Binge

CONFESSION: I have just spent the last 2 weeks on a stress binge. I admit it! UGH, I KNOW!!!

So it has been a while since I last posted, and that is mostly because I am not very proud of my actions over the last couple of weeks. I have taken a trip to Slackers City, and I liked it so much I decided to stay there for a while and have a pity party for myself. I am not proud of it, but when I started this blog I said I would share my ups and downs on this journey with all of you...so here we are, in a down.

Gym Bag is packed! Let`s do this!
I wasn't upset about my latest Darwinian failing. And I know I didn't initially have the reaction I am sure most people would expect. When I started the genetic screening for the BRCA 1 gene (the breast cancer gene) I had already accepted that there was a good possibility I would have it, and that I would have to make a decision about what I would do with that information once I had it. I knew I had other health limitations on the table, and those had to be considered in order to make an informed decision. My pacemaker limits my screening options and complicates how my body would fair if I ever needed treatment, so the preventative mastectomy made the most sense. No boobs, no breast cancer, no problem...or so I thought.

I guess I was a little naive about the whole "mastectomy- fake-boob-process" situation. I had sort of thought I would end up with little porn star boobs at the end of all this. Perky, round, and generally pretty fabulous. So I was feeling perfectly positive about it all. No breast cancer, an amazing rack - I wasn't really seeing a downside to this process. At least that was until I started googling....

I am a huge googler. I love it. You can find out anything you want in like 4 seconds flat, its amazing, and I do it all the time. It has easily stepped in as referee quite a few time when my husband and I are debating the important things in life, like how old Claudia Schiffer is and what the national flower of Italy is. But 2 weeks ago I learned that having all that information readily available is not necessarily a good thing. I started googling my gene and the options available for my surgery. The first website I went to had all kinds of information about the types of surgeries they offer - there are several options available depending on your body type and situation. It outlined in a very neat and organized way who makes the best candidate for which alternative. All very informative, all good stuff to know, until I saw the tab marked "manage your expectations". My heart sank a little at this point because I knew if I clicked on that button I probably was not going to like what I found. And I found myself thinking, "Why do I need to manage my expectations? Half the people in Hollywood and on the cover of magazines have gotten boob jobs...and they look good". Well after that I just couldn't look away. I HAD to click that button. (*sigh*) Needless to say what I saw on the other side of that link were not little porn star boobs.

I think for women whose breasts have been disfigured by a previous breast cancer surgery, or for those who have had a full mastectomy already - the results in the pictures are amazing. The before and afters depict a phenomenal transformation. But for me - someone who is generally pretty happy with my twins as is - the pictures left a little something to be desired. Mostly, nipples! Boobs without nipples look weird, and bit like they belong on a manikin or cyborg. It reminded me of my old Barbie dolls and how they are not anatomically correct. I was left feeling like before I even hit 30 my body is going to look like it had been put through the ringer, no matter how hard I tried to resist. So I lost some of my spark and general pizazz for sticking it to breast cancer. My whole plot to turn my body into the ultimate cancer fighting machine seemed like less of a good idea when I was going to look like Franken-titty at the end of it. Some wine, some chips, and a little pizza, all while watching some trashy reality TV seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.

But here I am 2 weeks later, the hangover from last Saturday is a distant memory, my sugar high is gone and the carbohydrate buzz is starting to wear off, and now I just feel regret. I gave in, and I let my Darwinian failures take control. Googling that stuff was a problem because at this point in my journey I don't know enough about my particular situation to know if what I saw is actually the kind of results I can expect. I still know that the mastectomy is best choice for me health-wise, which obviously trumps vanity any day. But I am 26, and I am vain, and I want nipples! But damn it, if I have to look like cyborg-Frankstein-freakazoid then I am going to make sure I am a healthy one! I fell down this week, but I am not beaten! I am stronger than nipples! And as the tag-line of this blog says, ``├Čt is not the strongest that survive, it is those most adaptable to change``. Well change, here I come.

Winston Churchill defined success as ``going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm``. So this afternoon I am accepting my failures and hitting the gym with an even greater enthusiasm for sticking it to genetics (all over again)!

Love your favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten