There are few moments in life where I can recall being so nervous and geeked out that I could literally shat my pants: When I first met Bob Harper and this one magical moment in time when I, Tish McEffin Arana, got to talk with Heather B. Armstrong, creator of THE most awesome, influential blog I have ever read, Dooce.com. It was worse than an audition day, folks! I knew the interview was coming and so did my stomach … and my heart because it had somehow found its way into my stomach and they were totally having a party and swapping ideas about how to throw my world into funky town mode. (For the record I don’t like disco parties in my gut.)
I made it through the interview without completely embarrassing myself (I have a wee bit of a writer’s crush on Ms. Armstrong, and I let her know that in the past … a lot, in not so subtle ways.) The product of the Tish + Heather interview is an FBG-afied golden egg just for you guys! It was only a matter of time before this happened, after all. Heather’s been posting for years now about her health and fitness adventures, and we’ve been following right along … drooling ever so quietly and waiting for the perfect time to ask if we could pick her brain. Her blogs are full of personable honesty, so we knew we could get some rather humorous and Dooce-able stories out of her regarding all things fitness. She didn’t disappoint.
Q&A With Heather B. Armstrong of Dooce
When and why did you start your blog? I started Dooce thirteen years ago next month. (February 27, 2001.) I was working as a web designer in Los Angeles and wanted a Facebook page basically (a place to share stories and pictures of what was happening in my life with my family and friends), but that type of platform didn’t exist, so I created a space for stories about my dating life and so forth.
How did you come up with the name of your blog? You live in LA, right? Well when I lived there 10 years ago everyone was referring to everybody as ‘dude.’ My boss called me dude. I called my boss dude … Everyone used it. None of us had smart phones back then so we’d text on instant messenger to each other and dude always came up. I would type ‘dude,’ and my autocorrect would always change it to dooce. People started referring to me as Dooce at that point, and the name stuck. When I was trying to figure out a name for my blog, the nickname came up. It was the perfect five-letter URL. Five-letter URLs are the best.
What’s the most rewarding thing about blogging? I think the most rewarding part about blogging is the feedback you receive from people. More specifically, people with depression or people who have family members or friends with depression. They write and say thank you for explaining what my wife/daughter/sister or whomever is going through. Words from families are the most touching.
What’s the most misunderstood thing about your blog or healthy blogging in general? That it’s easy and it’s all about being in your pajamas on your couch all day. People with those mentalities start and quickly give up because they don’t realize the time commitment it really takes to be successful. In regards to healthy blogging, I get into difficult territory here because of my dad … more specifically with my dad’s genes. I take after him. I’m long and lean like him. I have a natural thin frame, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to work. People always think because I’m naturally skinny that I don’t need to work out, but I need exercise. I need my girls to see what a healthy lifestyle looks like.
What’s your favorite post and why? My favorite post would have to be the most popular post I’ve ever written (my labor story with my second child, Marlo.) About 30 weeks in I decided to try for a natural birth. In that post I talk about how skeptical I was but how transforming it all was, too … it was fun to write!
How long have you been a fit-minded woman? I’ve always worked out, but I got serious about it in 2010 when I started working with my trainer. This was around the time that Marlo was born. I had just stopped breastfeeding her. I’ll be 39 this year, and I have to say I’m in the best muscular shape I’ve ever been. I laugh at how I used to approach fitness. I’d do a lot of cardio and then eat crappy foods. I learned that Stair Masters and junk food really don’t get you too far.
What workouts do you love? I work out with a trainer twice a week. My trainer has been in fitness for over 30 years. She’s always looking for a modified-CrossFit/cross-training workout for me to do. Because of this I’m always sore because it’s always something different and challenging, but that’s why I love it. I love being challenged.
What workouts do you love to hate? I used to really like cardio but now I hate it. It’s a challenge. I have to do this one thing for 45 minutes … ? Can I turn off my brain to do it? Cardio is easier for me physically, but mentally it’s boring and it’s such a challenge to overcome that boredom.
What single piece of workout apparel could you not live without? My cropped lululemon black workout pants. I wear them every day. Even when I’m not working out.
What’s the most embarrassing song on your workout playlist right now? I haven’t updated my playlist in quite some time, so I’m a little embarrassed by this one. It’s that one song by Enrique Iglesias and Pit Bull, “Tonight.” I love it so much [laughs]. I like to think I have a pretty good collection of music, but when it comes to my workout music, I’m afraid it’s all bad, but it gets me going. You just can’t really get your heart rate up to Radiohead, ya know?
What are a few of your fitness confessions? Well, I listen to terrible music and I’m working on mastering more pull-ups. I can ONLY do five right now.
If she only knew I can only do one … on a REALLY good day. I swear I caught myself shaking my head in agreement on most of these. Sore all the time? Yeeeep. Love/hate relationship with running due to incessant monkey brain? Check! We’ll feature more Dooce goodness over on FBE and FBM in the coming days, but for now I think I need to seriously marinate in all this awesomeness. You know what I mean, dude? —Tish