Monday, September 26, 2011

I Am Here Because I Finally Give A Damn

184.4 lbs. Temporary, I assure you because…

The planets aligned, the work gods were kind and I was able to finish my work for today with enough time to hit the gym for a Monday Monster Burn (cue Tim Allen grunting sound). An hour with the weight machines! Yeah, Baby, bring it on! An hour on the elliptical! Love it, love it. A SECOND hour on the elliptical! You heard me: two hours of cardio on top of an hour of resistance training! When he wasn’t getting bopped on the bean with apples, Sir Isaac Newton posited, “A body in motion tends to remain in motion.” Well, this body was in motion. There were plenty of empty elliptical machines available, TNT was showing a bunch of Lennie Briscoe “Law & Order” episodes (Jerry Orbach, we miss you) and I didn’t need to be anywhere else. This body remained in motion. I felt great, not just the physical “endorphin rush” kind of giddiness that one gets after working out hard (it’s actually kind of a fun goofiness), but because I had, if only for one afternoon, recaptured the drive I had when I began this project and I had kept the promise to myself I had made when I got to the gym: today would be a Monster Monday.

Accomplishment is good for the soul and the self-esteem. As a reward, I bought Epsom salts and Aleve for the body, which will be deployed when I finish typing. With great power comes great responsibility. I think if I multiplied what I’m feeling right now by a factor of 50, I might be able to talk to someone who just ran the Boston Marathon about post-race recovery.

But I still feel damn good. YEAH.

My very good friend, Darci Monet (shared courtesy of her sister, the fabulous Mandi J. Smith, who writes the “Mandi Crocker” blog and bakes so well, Martha Stewart should watch her back) writes a blog called “The Magical Musical Messcapades of a Juicy Girl in L.A.”. About two months ago, she wrote a post that resonated with me titled “I Am Not Broken.” Here’s the link:  Reader’s Digest version: a woman at a women and food retreat realizes that her eating issues stem from her mother having eating issues and trouble handling people around her who were not experiencing the same trouble (Okay, I may get corrected, but this is MY takeaway. Got it?). This woman realized this and said, “I am not broken.”

Just that phrase is powerful. Not broken means functional, able and perhaps strong. I’ve been turning this over in the back of my mind.

Darci also related a story (not sure whose) about taking dance lessons at the advanced age of 5 and wanting to quit; the storyteller’s mother said, “That’s okay, Honey, you didn’t really have it anyway.”

I heard that after I got a “D” in acting classes because I didn’t want to act out lesbian scenes for the professor (not sex scenes, but scenes as a lesbian relating to others. Not being a member of the Sapphic Sisterhood, I had and do not have a frame of reference for how to be a lesbian, but this woman kept insisting on having me improv it). My father, on seeing the grade, said, “Well, I guess you’re not really an actress after all. You can focus on your real classes now.” (I haven’t thought about this in years and I’m tearing up a bit. Excuse me). Understand: this was a guy who was eligible to attend Julliard for piano and that was blocked by HIS parents.

My late best friend/soul sister, the fabulous Nancy Kurrelmeyer, gave me a bumper sticker that has been on my refrigerator ever since I got it (along with the late lamented “I Love NY, Too, It’s the Yankees I Hate” that shredded the last time I removed it): “Those Who Have Abandoned Their Dreams Will Discourage Yours.”

Something else that added to the mix was Ragen Chastain’s recent blog post on “Dances With Fat”, the “Awkward Conversations” post, specifically, where she repeats the statistic that 95% of diets fail. (In fairness, there’s the link). My previous post in this space discussed my disagreement with the half-hearted support she advocates based on her (I perceive) theory that whoever is doing the work will just do a 180 and start gaining it all back anyway. It still nettles me, probably because of the story I just related.

I will turn a concept or a “problem” (and that includes algebra-style problems) over in my mind like a hamster on a wheel. On Red Bull. Even when it’s shoved to the back, part of the organic computer that is my brain will be crunching the data. Yesterday, it spit out a response that synthesizes all of the above and I wrote it down:

“I am working on this project because I care enough about myself to strive towards the best possible version of me that I can become.”

I realized that I actually do give a damn about me and not because of the family/friend pressure. The woman who was not monitoring what was going in to the body (in the food sense) did not give a damn, mostly because she did not want to appear to conform to the wishes of those who disapproved (The terms “Maverick” and “Rogue” have been ruined for me since late 2008) and did not take care of my body just to prove who has power. If my body was a car, it could have been sitting on cinder blocks in the back yard, quietly rusting with weeds growing up around it, sort of like a Jeff Foxworthy “You Might Be a Redneck” joke.

Well, she won. In 2009, attempts to control/shame/force submission were cut off completely and it has taken until now for me to see it that way. People who had been telling me all of my life that they had my best interests at heart and I should trust them implicitly were wrong because their own interests trumped mine in their worlds and always will. My best interests trump theirs in my world and if I need to completely separate myself from them in order to survive and grow, so be it. But I digress.

Don’t get me wrong: I like food. I like it a lot. I love to indulge my sense of taste (and my sense of smell. I need to come up with a term for window shopping for the nose at a fancy perfume counter). Sweet, savory, sour, sometimes all three at once, I love it. I’ll overeat something just to keep its wonderful flavor in my mouth. But I can stop, save the remaining bites of whatever and anticipate its flavor at another time.

As for exercise, I’ve learned to recognize the difference between lactic acid burn in the muscles and pain from something being wrong and I have taught myself to push through that burn because the rewards on the other side of it are worth it. The woman who was previously in charge hadn’t learned this and would give up easily (although neither one of us is really comfortable on a bike. A few nasty spills as a kid and some ongoing low-level balance issues). I care enough about myself to make my body work; make the blood pump, the tendons flex and the muscles do what they were created to do. I’m not shooting for immortality, but avoiding physical decline, hell, yeah.

I HIGHLY recommend this video by Darci (“Pipes”): “Go On.”
I can relate to one of the stories in it (and yeah, I helped. You can’t see me in the crowd scene, but I’m there) as portrayed by fantabulous Kelly Goodman. It speaks to me of winning the mental battles that are the biggest obstacles in our lives. Don’t let fear drive the bus. Go on.

I am here because I care enough about myself to become the best version of me that I can. And I am here because I will…go on.


  1. *STANDING OVATION*!!!!!!!

    Much love to you, Sue. Go on, little sister! ♥

  2. What Beeg Seester said!! Love you, Sue-- so glad you're a part of my life & so excited to see all you're doing! :)


Keep it civil.