Tag Archives: fitness

Letting It Go: A Birthday Bash Tale

18 Aug
olaf

Olaf is property of the Disney folks. This image can be found over at LetsPartyShop’s Etsy page. Click to check ’em out. 

On Sunday, August 14th, 2016, a bathing suit was yanked up my torso, giving a slight smooth to my otherwise blatant belly bulge, yanked over my shoulders to pancake my mediocre breasts within, and waddled out with my gelatinous, thundering thighs below into a community pool. It had been five years since I’d been in a body of water, but it was my niece’s fifth birthday, dammit, and I wasn’t going to infest her precious little baby brain with self-consciousness and terms like “body positivity,” “goal weight” and “thigh gap.”

This was a big win for me.

I hated the idea of a pool party. Really – why, OH GOD WHY, did that have to be the location? My aversion to watery outings isn’t just due to the need to sport a swimsuit; it’s compounded by a host of other awful traits that recreational water activities feature: hordes of people, gaggles of children, metric tons of sand, wide open spaces, bright blazing sunlight, and a general lack of cats, video games, and pillows. To add pain to pressure, she had chosen the most obvious of themes: Frozen. How, after three complete rotations of the earth, little nuggets across the country are still holding on to Elsa and Olaf with their tiny, grabby hands, is beyond me.

Back in the day I recall many a family outing where I didn’t care how much grease slathering I had to do to get out in the water – and no amount of sand in my danger zones could stop me from burying my entire self on the shore. We used to have regular family outings at a local dam and I would get so excited I would nearly vomit before we even got to the car to leave. (I didn’t get out much as a child.) But now, every element of the pastime annoys me and I’ve actively and successfully avoided beaches, pools, lakes, and ponds. I will, from time to time, indulge in kayaking on a river. Because it is a solo activity, void of sand, and can be done in shorts and a t-shirt. If a child approaches me, I can swiftly paddle away.

Alas, when my niece looked up at me with her big, brown eyes and curls to match and asked me if I would come to her birthday party, I knew my days of comfort and curmudgeonry were at an end.

I considered just staying out of the water all day. There are pavilions and grass patches, and a variety of perimeter sections at a pool, and on the right day with only a slight amount of people, I imagined that curling up on a bench and reading a book would be kind of nice. I might even feel a little outdoorsy. But this was a birthday party for a five-year-old. There would be no reading, no sitting, and no relaxation of any kind. We had dibs on the giant, central water slide and I knew I would have two choices: go down it twenty-two times in a row, or go down in her memory as the worst of all the aunts.

Having chosen the former, I found myself in the bathing suit section of Target at 10pm the night prior, picking over the clearance section of the suits that were left behind. Mid-August is a beach-shopper’s wasteland, with mismatched and poorly-sized two-pieces, one-pieces in animal prints, and a handful of misshapen cover ups.

I had twenty dollars, a black tank top at home I wasn’t sure even fit me, and a modicum of chutzpah.

I also had the Dave, who found me picking over the beachgoers’ desert with my grumplepuss face on. I had acquired two bottoms I was sure wouldn’t fit me, and a cover-up I was secretly hoping I could pair with jean shorts for the day if it seemed my niece was suddenly lukewarm about my presence and I could cut out pool time. I knew that was unlikely.

Dave was lovely, as Daves are, and encouraged me to go try things on. It made a lot more sense than my approach, which was to stare at things and pull on them until I gleaned whether a six dollar piece of fabric would really make my ass virtually unnoticeable. The first piece was an absolute no. It had this extra band of fabric above the top line of the bottoms that was an attempt at some style, but it was made of elastic and only served to divide my singular fat roll into two distinct, smaller rolls. That was, perhaps, a bonus, as it made the second pair I tried on appear almost flattering – returning my belly bulge to its original full glory.

I stared at my too-large hind-end in the too-small bottoms and told myself that this was the year of #selflove. That lighting at department stores was less flattering than sunlight. That my tank top at home would help cover up some of what was now flailing about in the fitting room where I only had my t-shirt bra for coverage. That five-year-olds don’t see fat. Try as I might to believe the pick-me-ups, I really couldn’t fathom walking around in those bottoms. They left very little to the imagination, and I prefer people to imagine me majestic.

I must admit that a portion of my hesitation was due to the superior genetic makeup of my sister-in-law’s family. She is one of twelve, and the parents who spawned them created a unique and superior mix of genes that led to tan skin, fantastic hair, high percentages of muscle composition, and a disposition for sportiness that hatched a litter of chiseled beasts. It’s a genetic unfairness that is to blame for my five-year-old niece’s washboard abs. The niece for whom I would have to hope beyond hope that when I woke up, I would get the gumption to squeeze my pasty, puckered behind into a too-small budget bikini bottom.

It was 9am when I rolled out of bed, threw on the suit, stood in the mirror at various angles while repeating body positive mantras, and hopped in the family wagon to meet my niece’s pool posse. I told myself I would find the magic on the way. I have a theater degree, for Pete’s sake, and I was going to use it to play the part of someone who gave no damns.

We pulled into the parking lot at exactly the same time as my brother, and the excitement coming from the vehicle was palpable. It was stacked from front to back with all the trappings for a Frozen-themed birthday pool party, and somewhere smushed between were my nephew, the birthday girl, and my little baby pudding niece. I went right for Pudding Niece. We were as one this day – our thighs were glorious, we needed to be near food at all times, and we probably should have stayed out of the water.

It took all of five minutes after getting my wristband on and pushing the stroller inside before Birthday Niece requested my presence at the water slide. It was time.

I cued up some motivational 80’s pop for my own personal montage in my mind, and shut down the give-a-damns. I greased up in SPF 50, got any trace of makeup off my face, smoothed down my peach fuzz legs, and chub rubbed my way out to a terribly exciting looking slide. Birthday niece’s grandmother was poolside – one half of the dynamic gene duo that led to the long-legged hatchlings scattered about the pool. She was a wondrous gazelle. I carried on.

I could feel my butt jiggling. I feared my cheeks would shimmy their ways to each opposite side and my too-small bottoms would remain lodged in the in-between. I thought about how my top was pulled down slightly too far in order to eliminate the possibility of midriff; I wondered if my unsupported breasts would rip free of their burden at the bottom of the slide. I remembered my mantras. I climbed the slide. Birthday Niece and Smiley Nephew were in tow. They were awful thrilled that I was joining them and their little wobbly friends. I coached them through the launch procedure, as it seemed the unenthusiastic high schooler’s barely-muttered “…go…” didn’t quite to the trick. They took off, grins blazing. They reached the bottom with splashes much greater than their sizes. They were slowly brought to the top thanks to their arm floaties and life vests. They waited for Aunt Jackie to descend.

In that moment I didn’t think about how anyone else perceived me but them. It didn’t even matter what I thought. All that mattered was that I be there, and that I enjoy myself with them – and there wasn’t any room for my adult, media-contrived misgivings. I thought about my nephew’s big, bright smile and how he needed a little scoot to get down the tunnel. And Birthday Niece, who left her tiara poolside so she could have maximum funtimes. And Pudding Niece, who had big, beautiful thighs, and dimples on her shoulders, and was a glorious little creature who would grow up to be beautiful not because of her superior genes, but because every family member she has is going to affirm for her that however which way she grows, she is majestic.

And I launched and splashed.

And I launched and splashed again.

And I launched and splashed twenty more times, with Birthday Niece in tow.

Surprisingly enough, it was a big bucket of fun. As with most things I do, it was a reminder that just because I hate something at first doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. After all, I hate almost everything at first. And it reminded me that sometimes you’ve just gotta let all the stupid, silly hangups go for something bigger than yourself.

Or in my case – three smaller things. 

Prepare the Goat Altar

3 May

It’s May.

The entire first quarter of the year is over, folks. Eddie Izzard ran 27 marathons in 27 days, Franky Zapata flew a Marty McFlyish hoverboard for over a mile, and Donald Trump has risen to become the harbinger of the Apocalypse.  How’s it going for you?

I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing: sucking. Just sucking really hard.

Last we left off, I set out to make this year count by incorporating a variety of daily habits into my life until magically, by the end of the year, I would rise to the status of casual superhuman. Thus, I embarked on my annual self throwdown: this time to see whether it was possible to develop a host of superpowered daily habits like getting a good night’s sleep, waking up early, reading the news, drinking something hot, and thinking about my day.

Basically, my 2016 challenge is to become the dad in a nuclear family Sunday comic strip.

I’m not entirely sure those people actually exist – the ones who plan their slumbers, rise early like Ben Franklin, make themselves breakfast, plan out their day, send up a prayer of gratitude, and sacrifice a baby goat all before lunch. Maybe Michelle Obama or Beyoncé, but they probably have a staff aide for the baby goat thing.

All that bleating.

As for me, at this point I’ve picked up a good breakfast habit and everything else is a bit shaky. At one point I’d worked up to four habits simultaneously but I had to think and plan and work to incorporate them, and once I got truly busy they got packed right back into my knapsack of good intentions.

I don’t like to fail at things.

So it’s quarter two and I’m running this ship like a business; it’s time to change strategies and dive in.

Now this next part is going to sound like I’m selling something. You know, like when you’re cruising through your news feed and a friend posts a picture of themselves looking fabulous and you go to click that new, awkward “heart” reaction until you take a closer look at the tags and realize it’s a plug for a body sculpting system that ships green goop to your door for a low monthly fee.

You know what I’m talking about, yes? If not, all you really need to know is that one of the names of such hawked product is called Soylent. It markets itself as an affordable, complete nutrition meal replacement. SOYLENT.

 

I would tag the product here so you could know I wasn’t kidding, but I’d rather plug Heston’s public service announcement about it.

 

Anyway this isn’t one of those. That was the point before I got all Charlton Heston on you.

My quarter two challenge is going to be something called the Whole Life Challenge (note to self: such a better title than One Good Thing). It’s basically everything I set out to do this year with my white boards and my tracking systems and my gamification of challenge attempts, but it costs fifty American dollars to do.

“But why would you do it if it’s basically the same, Jackie? Why would you give away your hard-earned nonprofit admin dollars? 

Because I failed quarter one. And it looks like this whole “add a habit at a time and mark it on your white board before bed” thing isn’t working. I have the undereye bags of a woman twice my age. I’m starting to google neck exercises. I’ve even done some of them. It’s time.

Every day I’ll try to earn points by performing basic human functions. I will do this for 56 days. I’m not really sure what happens on Day 56. I’ll probably write a blog post because that seems to be in line with my 2016 consistency.

Sucking. Just sucking so hard.

I could also tend to these daily habits by joining the Amish (#backtothehomeland), but I’m probably going to need somewhere for this to go in quarter three and it’s been some time since I busted out a Lollipop Tuesday.

But let’s focus on the positives, shall we? I’ve begun to regularly eat a healthy breakfast. I’ll have eggs or cereal or toast instead of, you know, whatever strangely-shaped, dusty M&Ms I can find on the bottom of my purse on the way to work.

Four months to remember how to regularly eat breakfast. I had that down at age 6.

Of course back then it was a bowl of regular Cheerios with a mountain of white sugar I spooned on top.

So maybe I didn’t have that down at 6.

Twenty-nine years to get the breakfast thing down. Okay. That’s fine.

I’m going to go get my badass back. It all goes down on Saturday. I’m gonna throw down five Alexander Hamiltons, and maybe one more to snag myself a new set of aviators so I can feel like a boss while I’m drinking water and reading the daily news.

Quarter two. Let’s roll.

Vegan Jackie, Reporting for Duty

1 May

Hello lovelies! It’s the first day of a shiny, new month and that means it’s time for me to fire up another 30 Day Challenge. It’s month 5, and so far I’ve tackled Jillian Michaels, an hour of reading every night (readers’ choice), cutting sugar, and keeping a detailed daily food and exercise journal.

Cutting sugar has by far been my least favorite. I don’t like it when my food is messed with. Particularly my sugar food.

I also like to eat animals. I do. I went vegetarian a long time ago after reading Skinny Bitch (I’m sorry, I wish it were more academic, but we do truth tellin’ here), and I only made it eight months. It was a gradual decline. I started sneaking ham sandwiches when my friends weren’t around and told myself they were a one-time thing and then before I knew it, it was Thanksgiving and I might as well have shoved my head directly up that turkey butt (Exhibit 1).

In all sincerity I’ve become much more cognizant over the years about what I put in my mouth (stop it), partly due to my effort to get fit in my 365 Day Challenge, version 2013, and partly because I became aware of how terrible the food industry is to animals, which I love and adore in an Elmyra Duff fashion. I’ve learned to vote with my money and though it has been a difficult budget adjustment for me, I buy grass fed beef, free range chickens, and try to make environmentally- and ethically-conscious choices.

But now it’s time to go hard. Trying to read more and eat less sugar and work out are good and dandy 30 Day attempts, but I can’t imagine any 30 Day Challenge I would hate more than going vegan and that makes it real juicy. I owe a few readers this challenge as well – some of whom have even offered to help me along the way. 

This strapping young lad is Alex Etling, aka @vegantweeter and the host of the posts at iChewsVegan. I’ll be dropping in on him for some veggie-filled truths this month and he’s been kind enough to offer himself as lifeline during my animal-craving fits of rage. (photo credit: Lauren Morrison Photography)

I’m not even sure what I can eat today. I mean, I know what I can’t eat. I grabbed a banana and a granola bar this morning and I’m going to have to read a lot of vegan food blogs very quickly because for a long time my major food groups were Cheez Its, Pizza, Hoagies, Macaroni and Cheese, and Ice Cream.

Those all sound delicious and they’re all off-limits. This is going to be an actual challenge.

There are lots of reasons that this is both the perfect and the worst time to do this. It’s the next natural step in my increasingly healthy lifestyle adjustments, and it doesn’t hurt that a powerful dose of nutrients and body love will help an upcoming photo shoot and summer season look more appealing… but it’s also a month full of food celebrations thanks to a recent job change, and several business meetings at restaurants that will simultaneously test my willpower and my knowledge of what’s safe to put in my piehole. 

The truth is that there is never a “good” time to start anything. There are always challenges. Change, even if temporary, is not easy. For 30 days in a row, I have to do this regardless of guilt I may feel for not eating something homemade, the waste I might incur by not partaking in unexpected and generous food gifts, and the overwhelming cravings I’ll battle when one of my aforementioned major food groups comes sexily whispering into my ear.

I’ll admit that I’m really clinging to two things for panic relief: there’s a kick-butt veggie stir fry offered at the joint down the street, and I know an ice cream shop that pushes vegan offerings.

The premise of Lollipop Tuesdays, 30 Day Challenges, and 365 Projects is to do something that you aren’t sure you can do, that you don’t necessarily want to do, and from which you might learn a great deal. For me, this definitely fits the bill. The timing is terrible, the excitement is difficult to muster, and the reward might be incredible. If you want to hop on board, you can start with your very next meal and count forward thirty days.

I’ll see you on the other side. 

Vegan Jackie, out. 

 

The Next 365

2 Jan

Okay. It’s January 2nd, 2014 and I have a 365 to account for.

For those of you just tuning in, it’s been exactly three years to the day since I wrote my very first post in my very first 365 Challenge: to fire up a blog I once adored and let sit dormant for years with one post every day for 365 days. It was far more successful and fulfilling than I could have imagined and I’ve become an advocate for 365 Projects ever since, much to the irritation of my friends and family.

In 2012, what I now refer to as The Dark Days, I didn’t complete a 365. In 2013, I enacted Project Fat Ass. To quote myself: “…before I give up all hope of ever being the kind of person who can run for 6+miles and/or fit into single-digit clothing, I’d like to give myself a fair shot by forcing myself to face my fat every single day for 365 days.  And then of course running a 10K so I can be sure something tangible came out of it: a certificate and a t-shirt.”

I did. I did all of that except get in the single digits (they’re a terrible myth, I’m sure of it). I exercised every day and ran a 5K and then exercised every day and ran a 10K and I got a shirt and a finisher’s medal. I took shots of myself every month and tracked my progress . At my least fit, I was 189. At my fittest, I was 155. It was really hard and it was completely worth it.

Originally I placed the 10K at the end of September because I thought it would give me an extra few months to harden up my body post-6-miles before reporting my progress. I thought about all the extra motivation I’d have thinking about how awesome it was that I finally ran that far and that long.

In reality I kind of blew it.

I mean, I walked for 20 minutes most days and sometimes I’d even do something pretty taxing but post-10K Jackie was nothing like pre-10K Jackie.  I should have gone harder. I won’t say I failed because hot damn I completed a 10K but I also won’t say that I was a warrior those last three months. If pre-10K Jackie were around, she’d be pretty upset. I’ve gotten pretty soft.

It’s all good though. Not only because I spent all year understanding my body and my motivations and what does and doesn’t work (and how disgusting my habits used to be), but because it’s January 2nd and it’s time for a new 365.

I was thinking about my big accomplishment this year and celebrating my new improved self with a bag of Skittles and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food (which I now eat in two days, not one), when I really struggled to think of something I wanted to do every day for a year.  I also thought about how many of you have talked about doing smaller daily challenges (30 Days) and how many of you took me up on my Gauntlet challenge earlier this year.

I can do lots of things better or differently than I’m doing them now. I had a whole list of ideas – I could spend all my free time only reading books, I could be vegan, I could go carless for a year, I could cook from scratch every single night, I could say yes to everything for a month – there are many possibilities I could dabble in daily that would seriously affect the kind of person I am and the effectiveness of my personhood a year from now.

It’s kind of hard to choose.

So this year my 365 is actually a series of 30 Day Challenges. I have twelve chances to adopt a new habit within thirty days. Some of them might stick, some of them surely won’t – but every single month I get to focus intently on something I want to be better at and share my failures with you all.

I’ve already picked the first month. As penance for the last three months of slacking, I’ll whip out my tried and true Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred so that I can stop hating on my soft self for the pathetic walks in October and November and the shameless cookie munching through December. That should also give you all ample time to tell me what you want me to do for 30 Days.

That’s right: I’m taking reader suggestions. I’d love to hear from you. Some of my best Lollipop Tuesdays have come from you guys. Heck, we can do one together or you can try to live vicariously through me or you can just suggest something you think I suck at so that you can point and laugh while I struggle.

In 2012 I wanted to be the kind of person who was fit. I wanted to be able to jog and maybe even run a race. It seemed completely out of my territory and I was so scared leading up to the 10K that I wanted any possible way to get out. Because deep down I’m a little whiny bitch and a bit of a pussy.

That’s truth right there. I know that it’s vulgar and I don’t usually do vulgar but that’s truth. And it’s probably true about all of us, really.

Let’s do 2014 correctly, shall we? We’ll live with intent, try new things, and laugh at ourselves. Of course you’re always welcome to just laugh at me, but I do hope that at some point this year you’ll consider joining me. If you aren’t sure what the rules are for a 30 Day Challenge, you can review my recommendations in numbers 1, 2, and 3 here. Eventually I might even put it all in one convenient location because I love you so hard.

Oh, and thank you. Whether you’ve been here since the first post or just got on the train, there is absolutely no doubt I would be a fat, motivationless pile of self-produced oils and cheetoh dust if you didn’t support me and ignore my frequent cat, unicorn, and World of Warcraft references. You’re swell. Thanks. As a token of my gratitude, here’s an oldie but a goodie: a large cat either being offered up to a nation or getting a breast exam in front of one.

cat feel up

Thank you and Happy New Year, all. The suggestion box is open. 

I Beat the Blerch

1 Oct

Happy Lollipop Tuesday, ladies and gentlemen.

I hope that by my classic opening sentence for a Lollipop Tuesday post, you’ll recognize that I’m alive and well after attempting my first 10K this past weekend, but I suppose that the first thing a ghost writer would do is study my recurring themes and voice and copy it for the sake of consistency so I guess you’ll just never really know if the person blogging from now on is the real Jackie or not. I can’t make that decision for you.

I can, however, tell you that on Sunday morning at approximately 10:30am, my butt cheeks coordinated in perfect and opposing harmony to power me across the finish line of my very first 10K race.

In retrospect, there are a few things wrong with that sentence. Particularly the part about it being a race. I’m sure it was for some people, but the only person I was competing with that morning was the fat girl inside me, telling me to just stop and take a bus to the end. I was prepared for that, which is why I had two shortbread cookies in a tiny plastic baggie in the cup holder of the car, which was parked back at the start line. And since I knew fat Jackie was going to kick in around mile 3, I outsmarted her. She could either walk more than three miles back to the car in shame, or she could finish the less than three miles ahead of her, and then take a complimentary shuttle back to her well-deserved bag of cookies.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being an adult is all about properly leveraging your motivators.

That would be me, pre-race. And Dave. And the friend who challenged me in January to make my 5K resolution into a 10K instead. Let's call him Lord Pickles.

That would be me, pre-race. And Dave. And the friend who challenged me in January to make my 5K resolution into a 10K instead. Let’s call him Skeeter.

 

Let’s move on to the second inaccuracy in my former sentence: the use of the word “first”. While it’s true that it was my first 10K, I feel uncomfortable about calling it out like that because seriously, I doubt that there will be another. Let’s face it guys: I suck at running. I bitch and I moan and I’m uncomfortable and the only way to get me to do it, really, is to either bully myself into it with embarrassment and fear tactics, or to promise myself some pastries I squirreled away for myself.  There’s a chance that I’ll revisit a 5K now so that I can work on having a less embarrassing pace, but it’s highly unlikely that I’m going to endure this particular kind of pain and suffering again.

What pain and suffering, you say?

At the beginning of a race, I scan the thousands of participants for whom I anticipate will be the weakest in the pack.  These include but are not limited to the old and feeble, the fat and frumpy, and (of course) the children. I then proceed to watch every single person I pegged out for losers pass me as I huff and puff and consider blowing the whole thing off. I spent the entire race alternating between trying to pass a father-son team who ran ahead and then walked until I passed them and then ran ahead again, and an old lady with a fanny pack and a serious hunch who did the same. I very keenly remember trying to chug up a hill in the very first mile and reminding myself to breathe and relax because it was just the beginning as a woman with enormous haunches harnessed her ass power and soared uphill without effort.

They all beat me. Every single one. And in case that wasn’t bad enough, at mile 2.5, I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked to see my boss smiling and leaping ahead. I could have tried to keep pace to rescue what remained of my dignity, but let’s be honest: there was no guaranteeing I was going to make it to the end and it wasn’t a time to get cocky.

So that. That pain and suffering.

The third and final issue I take with the sentence I was too lazy to delete is that it contained the term “opposing harmony”, which I’m pretty sure can’t be a thing. I’ve tried to justify it many times and I suppose there can be an opposing harmony that exists, perhaps, among counterweights, for example, and Paula Abdul and the cartoon cat in Opposites Attract, but there is a better way to describe the way one’s butt cheeks work together than “opposing harmony”.  I’ll blame the ghost writer for that lack of inventiveness…and basically everything terrible written from now until this blog dies a hard and humiliating death, just like the real Jackie did at the 10K on Sunday.

Just kidding.

Maybe.

Seriously though, thanks to everyone who has followed me from the couch to the 5K to the 10K. If you’ve been reading, you know this transition has been far from natural for me but I’m 30 pounds lighter than when some of you first started reading, I’m not out of breath when I walk to the bus stop, and sometimes I’ll even walk to get groceries instead of taking the car. When I was having a really hard time pounding the pavement to a decent pace around the 4.5 mile mark, I thought lovingly of you all and how incredibly humiliated I’d be if I went so public with this and failed horribly.

Which is why the real Jackie couldn’t bear to tell you the truth and instead hired someone to carry the torch of her blog in a sort of veiled semi-serious voice regarding her passing.

Regardless, whatever Jackie is left may have completed her New Year’s Resolution but still has three months left in her Project Fat Ass 365. That’s 90 more days of huffing and puffing and seeing if I can really realize my true goal for the year: to be in the best shape of my life before the late 20’s swallows me in its beefy jowls of doom.

Hey: if I pop in Jillian Michaels now, I might have enough time to burn off all the motivation cookies it took me to train for the 10K. 

By the way, if you’re wondering where the title came from, please go here and read everything on the site. Or maybe don’t because then you’ll never come back to me. It’s okay. I’ll understand.

Goalsmack Month

3 Jul

Guys, it’s an important time of year.

I’m not talking about the birth of our great and glorious beer-drinking reality-television-watching nation or even the birth of myself (occurring the week thereafter but unrelated to beer or reality television) or Christmas in July. I’m talking about the halfway point to New Year’s Resolutions.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that the beginning of this month marks the halfway point for my Fat Ass 365 Project, wherein I vowed to do something health-related and workout-y for 365 days in a row, culminating in a 10K at the end of the year. Back in spring I participated in a 5K to keep myself on track and accountable and thererin concluded that I would rather die a slow and painful death in private than to be forced to do it publicly by running a long distance race..

Unfortunately, I’ve already committed online, in person, over the phone, and in print- I’ve locked myself in via every communication channel possible. I even have an accountability buddy. That is, a buddy who will come the day of the race to knock on my door and drag me to the starting line. This, of course, is all part of a well-constructed plan by pre-5-K Jackie, who believed she could do whatever she put her mind to and didn’t want to put up with wussy Future Jackie’s sissy whining. She set up safeguards and guarantees to ensure that Future Jackie couldn’t wiggle her way out of anything. Post-5-K Jackie, however, has the good sense to acknowledge how incredibly difficult it was to simply jog three miles straight and isn’t “sissy whining” so much as she’s “certain she will die”. 

But it’s too late. I’m locked in.

Death impending or not, I’m halfway to the reckoning. A little closer, actually, since the 10K is late fall. That means that in two weeks I officially start my training schedule. It’s not official, really. It’s just a piece of paper I tore out of a magazine that promised me lots of things. 

So I’m staring down the barrel of my New Year’s Resolution. So far everything is on track. I’m still working out, I’ve cut down my complaining to occasional, and when I think about running a 10K I still puke a little fear into my mouth. How you doin?homer

Many of you are in the midst of grand undertakings as well. Some of you got started bright and early in the year and some of you just hopped on board recently. You can start a 365 any time, so if this paragraph has you feeling left out, feel free to jump in any day now. If you’re nervous about doing the whole thing, you can always start a 30 Day Challenge. The mention of either is enough to get me all hot and bothered.

While you’re all assessing progress, charting future plans, and/or scolding yourself for negligence, I’ll be paying extra attention to Jillian Michaels  and logging more miles on my bike in the hopes that I can lower my risk of Death-by-10K. Maybe if I kick it up a notch these two weeks before training, I’ll thank myself later. 

Unlikely.

But first I must celebrate the glory that is Old Glory. I plan to do so with two toddlers, a baby, and a kiddie pool. I made cookies. It’s going to be excellent. 

Happy Almost Independence Day/My Birthday/Christmas in July/Goalsmack Month. And don’t forget – it’s never too late to join the crazy. 

My Struggle with Dance

4 Jun

napoleon dance

I wasn’t born a dancer.

I have the long, gangly limbs of an awkward schoolgirl married with the anxieties of a shut-in. Though I’m often mistaken for the kind of person who will get up and dance, it’s one of the pastimes I prefer our culture had never actually developed so that I could never live to be pressured into the misery of participating in it.

I danced once in middle school. I had developed a deep-seated complex about having to shower naked in the open with other girls and so to distract everyone’s attention from my conscientious objection, I stood on one of the benches in the locker room and performed a rousing rendition of “Father Abraham”, which I learned in Christian School.

Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Faaaaather Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you. So let’s all praise The Lord! (Right Arm!) Father Abraham… had many sons….

It went on in this hokey-pokey like fashion until all my body parts were involved. It was the dancing highlight of my first decade.

About five years later, I took a real stab at it in college. It was a pact between a friend and me– we were both ungifted with grace and thought taking Modern Dance would be an excellent way to help gain control over our gangly limbs. I remember it taking me several weeks simply to memorize the warmup routine. I also remember slamming my head off the stage during the final performance. Mostly.

A few years after that, I made one final and last-ditch effort to fall in line with society’s demand that I dance. After knocking out my gen eds, I transferred to a performing arts conservatory  with a nationally-lauded dance program. I was in the acting track and thought it would be prudent to dip my toes in the dance water to help not embarrass myself in future auditions that require rudimentary movement.  I signed up for “Dancing for Actors” – a class specifically tailored to actors who want to avoid humiliation. We learned basic steps and combinations and had to choreograph a piece and teach it to the class.

I struggled. There was a lot of stepping on toes and attempting to lead, which apparently isn’t permitted by humans with hoo-has. For my final piece, I choreographed “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and featured a freestyle section where everyone was commanded to channel their inner jungle animal and move through the space. It was beautiful.  It’s the only assignment on which I got an A.

And also the only assignment for which I didn’t dance.

My least favorite part of being a non-dancing human is weddings. People will always try to get me to dance at weddings. Somewhere along the way, someone told society that if you’re in an environment where other people are dancing and you’re not, you must not be having fun. The reality of the situation is that I’m highly skilled in self-entertainment (as a child I spent a lot of hours sitting in the car alone while my mom ran errands). But because society has been taught that dancing is fun and non-dancers are miserable, it becomes everyone’s personal mission to make non-dancers dance at weddings.

As if it’s not humiliating enough to have to scramble for a bouquet of flowers in front of everyone.

I have made two attempts at dancing in the past several months (a new record). The first was at a wedding where my friends pulled me onto the dance floor against my will and gang-danced me into a circular cage until I had to either move or ruin everyone’s fun. The second was last week.

I was at the wedding of a lovely and fantastic couple and feeling quite safe about the experience because Dave has been very vocal about his distaste for dancing. I remembered that quality being one of the things I checked off my “ideal man” list that I keep in my pocket at all times for cross-referencing. However, at this particular wedding, he was dancing.

This was an entirely new kind of pressure. Dave is a very attractive man, and weddings typically feature moderately attractive women. So added to the weight of ruining a wedding with my sourpuss non-dancing and the pressure of my friends egging me to do so publicly, I now had to consider that if I didn’t get out there and dance with him, some other boobed lady beast would.  So I did what any self-respecting woman would do: I asked the DJ to play “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness and threw caution to the wind. He followed it up with “Brick House” and two things occurred to me: 1) I don’t mind dancing if it’s to amusing music and 2) I don’t mind dancing as much now that I’m not so fat.

That last part is a big one.

For those of you following along at home, I’m halfway through a venture I’ve dubbed Project Fatass 365, wherein I must work out every day all year. There on that dance floor I realized that there was much less jiggle in my jiggy and that I wasn’t nearly as concerned with people’s eyes being on me as I used to. Not just because there is less of me and because I can better control what I have, but because I just care a lot less about what people think. Now that I’ve shed some of the megagut I was using to store my food for winter all year long, I have more energy to be my middle-school self.

I’m still not a dancer. I will probably never be one. I’m living proof that slides, be they of the cha-cha or the electric variety, are not universally demonstrated. But that’s okay because I do one hell of a Father Abraham.

So here’s to a new Jackie – a Jackie who dances not because she’s egged on or pressured or gang-danced to humiliation, but because she hears Brick House and wants to get funky and doesn’t really care what it looks like to everyone else. It’s a shame that I ever lost that spark that got me on the locker room bench in the first place.

But you still can’t make me shower in public.

Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Faaaather Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you. So let’s all praise the Lord (LEFT ARM!) Father Abraham….

Behold: The Jackalope

8 May

Ladies and gentlemen, IT’S LOLLIPOP TUESDAY!

Man, it’s been a while since I’ve said that. I think that has a little do to with the fact that I’ve been focusing on the 5K (read: rocking myself to sleep in the fetal position while clutching my training schedule) and forgetting that the whole ‘get out of the house and try new things’ thing can’t come to a hault because of a longterm goal. I’ll do better. Really.

In the meantime, I’m sure it’s been so long that you can’t even remember what a Lollipop Tuesday is so instead of directing you to the top of this page where it says “What’s Lollipop Tuesday?” as I am wont to do, I will let you stay right where you are and tell you that Lollipop Tuesdays are an occasional series here on the jackie blog wherein I challenge myself to get out of the house and try new things in an attempt to stop my hermity old cat lady ways in their tracks.

Or at least slow them a bit.

Anyway, I’m evading the point, which is that on May 4th of this, the 2013th year of our Lord, I chugga chug chugged my tubby tub tub across the great urban plains of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in an attempt to run three point one miles without stopping.

For someone who got winded a few months ago just walking to the bus stop, this is quite a feat.

This was one of the hardest things I’ve done in a while. Not only because it took several weeks of preparation, but also because there was no way to wiggle my way out of it. I signed up, I told a bunch of people; I was locked in. For weeks I’ve wanted to quit and for weeks I’ve had to tell myself to suck it up. That’s why when I was about halfway through the race and I looked longingly at the people who were taking a walk break, I could tell myself to stop being such a baby and to pedal my jelly rolls onward toward the goal.

Actually, halfway through I struck a deal with myself that if I finished the 5K, I could back out of the 10K. Because let me tell ya – after doing all that, the only thing I was certain of was that I was not, no way, ever going to run a 10K.

Unfortunately, I’ve already publicly committed to the 10K and paid the registration fee so I’m roped in, squealing and kicking and all. 5K Jackie was tricking non 5K Jackie. It was a dirty, dirty trick indeed.

When I first started the whole thing and I found out that you get a medal at the end, I was kind of annoyed. It reminded me of when I used to chair Model United Nations in college *pushes up glasses* and the organizer always made me give every kid who talked a certificate. It made me livid. Just because you talk doesn’t mean you’re contributing to the conversation. I don’t care if you’re 14 and need encouragement. You know what’s encouraging? Getting a trophy next year when you actually decide to say something worthwhile.

Okay, I’m obviously still harboring a lot of unresolved resentment about this. Let’s move on. My point is that I may have disagreed with the “everyone gets a medal!” mentality before the race, when I was finished I grabbed that thing with both hands and threw it around my neck whilst furiously gargling my spit. Because when a chubby girl with asthma runs three miles without stopping for her inhaler or a lollipop, you give her a damn medal.

Seriously though, I’m glad I did it. The whole point of starting Lollipop Tuesdays was to stop defining myself by the things I hadn’t done and start defining myself by the things I had. I couldn’t ever imagine running a 5K and now I have. So now I get to raise the stakes and try to go for the 10. It’s good for me. I hate to suck at things, and there’s nothing like watching children half my age and their parents twice my age running effortlessly ahead of me while I struggle to maintain a 12-minute-per-mile pace. It keeps me humble. And by humble I mean self-deprecating.

I think I also unearthed a nugget of self-knowledge here. Even though months ago I would have been thrilled to run for 3 miles without stopping, as soon as I crossed the finish line I started to think about how I should have been more tired and that I must not have pushed myself hard enough. I thought about how a 5K was okay, but what was actually impressive was something big like a marathon. I thought about how maybe if I did a 10K and I could shave two minutes off my mile that I would really achieve something.

In a way, that’s a great thing. The want to constantly get to the next thing keeps me moving and keeps me interested. But in a way it’s absolutely awful because no matter where I get, I fail to appreciate my arrival. Dave, who listened to me groan and moan for months about hating my body and how I was constantly tired and miserable, saw me cross the finish line, took a bunch of pictures, and took me out to celebrate. He was at least four times happier than I was. When he went on and on about how proud of me he was, I started to feel like he was mocking me.

Of course he wasn’t. He’s Dave the Great. I’m the sucky one.

So I guess my goals are now twofold. 1) Take time to appreciate the getting there before going elsewhere 2) Remember to continue to do little new things while attempting to do one big new thing.

Nay, threefold.

3) Run a 10K.

Here I am, medal and all. Just in case you suspect I make these things up. I'm talking to you, Jules.

Here I am, medal and all. Just in case you suspect I make these things up. I’m talking to you, Jules.

You’re Gonna Miss the Train

3 Apr
This is the awesome train. It's leaving soon.

This is the awesome train. It’s leaving soon.

I’m sure that you thought since we’ve passed April 1, I’m going to leave you alone about the whole Gauntlet thing.

But I’m not.

This is my last chance to convince you that in 30 days you could be better at something you suck at, proud of your progress, and filled with hope for a future full of sunshine and unicorns.

You know this. You’ve heard this. And there’s something already on your mind that you might try but you’ve filled your head with excuses, tried to talk yourself out of it, and generally been a big, sucky baby. Haven’t you? You big, sucky baby.

I was a big sucky baby once. Actually, I still am. It’s why every once in a while I still get out for a good old fashioned Lollipop Tuesday. In fact, I have something incredibly embarrassing and pee-inducing coming up this week.  And then after that I have to run a 5K. And then after that I have to run a 10K.

These things are not easy for me. They’re not easy for lots of people. Everyone is working, not getting enough sleep, needs more time to relax, and all those other things that get in the way of taking care of your own needs and desires. Let me assure you that even though I’m in the midst of a fitness-related 365, every day is a challenge. The good news is that all you have to do is 30. And even though the intrinsic rewards should be plenty to make you feel like it was worth your time, I’m throwing in the chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card just for participating. 

Today’s shout out for joining The Gauntlet goes to Georgia’s Bath Products, who has decided to spend a little bit of time every day for 30 days doing something to improve her small business. That’s pretty fantastic. You can follow her journey here. Or you can just drop by and tell her how awesome she is.

In addition to Georgia, I’ve had people contact me to share stories of their challenges and the ways they’re going to get involved. They include:

  • Reading every single day to help conquer a pile of books that have accumulated on the wish list but have never gotten lovin’
  • Writing of all shapes and sizes – novels, paragraphs, blogs, poems… Did you know April is National Poem Writing Month, also known as NaPoWriMo? How perfectly aligned this all is. 
  • Fitness, fitness, fitness. This comes in a variety of forms – yoga, stress relieving activities, doses of sunshine – people everywhere are using The Gauntlet as a good excuse to take care of themselves and see what sticks after one month.
  • Job hunting.  What a great idea, right? If you’re unhappy with your current money-making situation, why not do one thing every day to better it? People are vowing to browse job boards every day, apply for jobs and internships, and work on projects that will better their positions in the workplace.

So what’s the thing nagging you? Is it a house that needs spring cleaning? Is it a project that’s sat in the corner of your room forever? Is it something you’ve been all-talk and no-walk about for an embarrassingly long time?

The Gauntlet was set up so that you could easily start April 1st and end April 30th, with over a week to spare to contact me to tell me you completed it. But you can start any time. And you can start up until April 9th and still be on board for the $100 Visa gift card and a host of other folks supporting your endeavor out there in the blogosphere.

So comment below or click that link on the top of the page or on the right sidebar that lead to the rules and deadlines for The Gauntlet. Drop a line about what you’re going to commit to, or find your favorite form of social media and tell me there. Use #TheGauntlet for me to find you on the Twitter Machine.

This is my last push for The Gauntlet – next week I won’t be trying to convince you of anything. I’ll be talking about my cats or something. And hopefully you’ll be 1/4 of the way toward being infinitely more awesome.

By the way, once upon a time I was a big fat whiny baby with a lot of excuses who ate a lot of pizza and didn’t get any physical activity aside from walking from my front door to my car. And then I logged into Sparkpeople yesterday and was greeted by this:

sparkpeople update

 

You know, just saying. Progress can only happen if you start. 

Peace out, kids. I hope to hear from you. And thanks for all your cheerleading thus far. 

Sometimes I Like to Drink Naked in My Lobster Suit

27 Feb

Well, I can no longer take all the fat on my stomach and smoosh it together with my hands to create an enormous pouch of jelly.

So that’s nice.

For those of you unacquainted with my fatness, allow me to introduce you to Project Fat Ass 365, wherein yours truly has committed to work out every single day of 2013 for at least 20 minutes. For someone who just posted last week about how all her dreams could come true if she were allowed to make money to lie in bed and do nothing while NASA pokes and prods her for the betterment of society, working out is kind of epic.

So I’m two months in and I have a bit of a confession: I skipped a day.  For one entire day I didn’t do anything workout related. I tried to make up for it by doing two Jillian Michaels workouts back to back the next day and then going for a jog.  If you know anything about Jillian Michaels workouts, I hope you see that this was a worthy punishment.  At any rate it made me feel terrible enough to never want to have to do it again.

I’m glad I got that off my chest.  I hope we’re still Interwebz friends.

I’m starting to finally notice some pretty nice byproducts of exercise, primarily the aforementioned lack of a kangaroo pouch full of lard.  I also went to an interview recently only to find that my smallest tool costume ( AKA office clothes) don’t stay on my hips, which is both exciting and annoying because I’m currently riding a steady wave of poverty. 

It would be more cost effective to buy 4 bags of Doritos and keep the pants I have than to invest in smaller pants. Fact.

But alas, I made a pact with myself and made it public, so I shall trudge on. Let us not forget that it’s been four years since I’ve been in a body of water at summertime for fear of my own spectacularly thunderous thighs.  I wore cardigans all summer long because I’d rather sweat than vex others with the sight of my flappalicious arms. If I sat on furniture, I would reach for the nearest pillow and place it over my stomach so that others couldn’t see the pile of pudge that would shift forward to rest on my lap like a lard kitten. It would be really nice to not have to do those things anymore.  If I keep trucking ahead and let Jillian Michaels yell at me for just twenty minutes a day, I might actually throw on some arm floaties and jump in the deep end this summer.

Not to mention run that 10K that’s looming over me in September. That’s a killer. Why did I say I’d do that?

A typical day in my apartment with my fatness.  And my cat. And my lobster suit.

A typical day in my apartment with my fatness. And my cat. And my lobster suit.

For those following along at home, I frequently tweet about my hatred of Jillian and all things pudgy on myself, so you can click the fancy button on the right to follow me on Twitter.  Occasionally I will check in with progress in my weekly posts, but for the most part I would rather spend this time focusing on the nuances of human behavior and society that make me want to board myself up in my apartment and never leave.

That’s been the tradition around here, anyway.

I’ve been courting the idea of a contest here on the bloggity blog.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve raffled a t-shirt or offered a gift card for various input. Except this time, I wouldn’t ask for Lollipop Tuesday ideas or macaroni and cheese recipes; I would challenge you to attempt a Lollipop Tuesday yourself or to do something every single day for one month to compete for a prize.

I’m not sure if this is a way to motivate you to go outside your comfort zone or a way to motivate me to keep doing what I’m doing.  Either way, we all win – yes? 

But before I put all that effort into things, let’s do a little market research. Let me know if you’d be interested in participating by answering the two snazzy surveys at the bottom of this post, and if you have any thoughts, ideas, or objections, feel free to spam the comment section – especially if you have a suggestion for a prize that would motivate you.  Be reasonable; suggestions for iPads will be scoffed at.  As you know by now, I love and adore each and every one of your squishy little brains and never let a comment go unreplied to.  

So take the survey, leave a comment, and/or follow me on Twitter to harass me with tweets like “run fatty, run!”  It’s not mean; it’s motivation.

Sprinkles and Puppies,

Jackie 

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