A Year in Review….Snap, Crackle, Pop

Last year, I decided to kick off the New Year, not with a more traditional resolution, but with a “To-Do” list.  I wrote about the idea and my list in a post entitled, I Wish I May, I Wish I Might.  Over the course of the last year, I’ve occasionally referred back to my list as I’ve accomplished things I had hoped to do and to remind myself of all that was left.

I knew going into 2016 that it wasn’t likely I would be able to accomplish everything listed….life doesn’t work that way….instead, I saw the list as more an ever changing and growing bucket list of things I hope to do and see and accomplish over time, year by year.

So, I thought it would be fun to dedicate my posts throughout the balance of the year to the items I successfully checked off my list.

I hope you enjoy the read.

♥ James


3.  Dump the Frump with visible results by year’s end

At the end of 2015, I decided to embark on a personal journey toward a healthier and more active lifestyle I called, “15 or Bust….Operation Dump The Frump.  I was spurred into action after an unfortunate episode of trying to squeeze myself into a favorite pair of old jeans I’d owned for more than a decade, only to discover it was like trying to squeeze Play-Doh through a cocktail straw.

After a serious aerobic workout, I managed to get them on and buttoned, but I could barely breath and it was clear that were I to sneeze, I would burst from my pants like She-Hulk….if She-Hulk were built like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man.

To be fair, I was not what anyone would necessarily call “overweight.”  I was….squishy.  Whatever muscle tone I’d once had, was well on its way toward atrophy and I was genuinely surprised as to how that could be.  I had always considered myself an active person, I certainly wasn’t sedentary.

Every year I loaded up a backpack and spent an average of ten days hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail and that shit is no joke.  I ascended and descended mountains carrying a backpack full of everything a person needs to survive in the wilderness for ten straight days and it’s not a light load to bear.

I played golf pretty frequently.  Sure, I rode in a cart ninety-nine percent of the time and ate hotdogs and Snickers, but seventy-year-olds are always talking about how they play golf for the exercise….hmmmm.

I also had a very active son to chase around, a full time job, laundry and other household tasks that required some measure of physical exertion, so it was a mystery to me as to how I had become so flaccid.

When I considered it a bit more though, I had to accept that I was not exactly the poster person for physical fitness.  Sure, I did stuff….sometimes….but if I was being honest with myself, which I would need to be if I were to make a real change, most of the time I sat on the couch eating crap and binge watching Netflix and Bravo.

Just like all those people in infomercials, I decided to get off the couch and do something about it.  Unlike all those people in the infomercials though, I didn’t start dialing praying for a quick fix via express shipping.  Instead, I found a local, women’s only fitness studio that offered a wide variety of classes and personal training.

The studio is owned by two young women who have worked in the fitness industry for a number of years.  They paid their dues and built up a strong client before deciding to start their own business and they had a very specific business model in mind for their venture.

I love my gym, because instead of pushing me to purchase add-on services, diet supplements and vitamin packs, they invite me out for beer and pizza.  This is not to say the instructors don’t push us during classes and personal training sessions….I’ve been pushed to the verge of vomiting more than once….but the overall message is always one in which moderation and balance are keys to maintaining long term health and fitness.

I joined the gym right before the holidays at the end of 2015, but I didn’t start attending classes regularly until the start of 2016.  Since then, I’ve been working out five to six days a week and on four of those days, I attend a 5:30am class, followed by another in the early evening.

When I first began “Operation Dump the Frump,” my goal was to lose 15 pounds.  I haven’t.  I lost six pounds in the first few weeks of working out, but then my weight plateaued and I stopped weighing myself altogether.  I honestly have no idea how much I currently weigh.  What I do know, is that I’ve definitely lost inches.  I have tone and definition in places I didn’t realize had muscle and my clothes don’t cut off my circulation.  I feel strong and I no longer find myself wondering if I’ve developed asthma any time I walk up a flight of stairs.

There have also been some unexpected benefits as it relates to my, uh, mental health and well being.

I once had a therapist tell me I was a classic introvert when I told him that people and relationships of all kinds exhausted me and sometimes made me feel like a caged animal, desperate for escape.  I told him that for a large percentage of my life, I’d been itching to flee and that for years I’d dreamed of staging my own disappearance.

“While everyone else dreams of things like buying a first house, getting married, starting a family, striving for that big promotion….I just want a VW Van and the quiet solitude of  living in the National Park System,” I had mused.

You’re a classic introvert” he’d said, before also explaining that all those non-medically diagnosed heart attacks I claimed I’d had, were actually anxiety attacks.  So….YAY heart health!?

The more we talked about it, the more it all made sense.  I’m just one of those people who needs alone time now and then for my own mental health.  Some people need Prozac, I need 30 minutes….and maybe Prozac, I don’t know, I haven’t been in therapy in a long time.

These days, the fact that I’m an introvert and that I have mild to occasionally severe anxiety, is something I’ve known for years and I’ve learned to recognize the signs that I’m in need of a “reset.”

Most of the time, it’s a gradual build up.  The world begins to feel small and tight and I start to feel compressed and on the verge of suffocation, but coupled with an intense surge of energy that I channel into things like, cleaning-out and reorganizing the kitchen cabinets and alphabetizing the spice rack.  Sometimes, this goes on for days.

Then, old resentments start to creep in.  I start to reminisce about fights my husband I had….in some cases years ago….and I find myself creating new reasons to stew over past wrongs.

Then, while I go about scrubbing every window sill and baseboard in the house and then  commence building a trellis or some shit in the backyard….while he lounges on the couch generally oblivious as I work….he unknowingly gives me a whole new reason to be pissed.

Why isn’t he reading my mind?  

What am I, the maid?    

Am I supposed to be a mom and a wife and a step-mom and fucking Bob Vila?

Then, and this is where it gets really fun….I start to obsess over the fact that we haven’t finalized the updating of our Will and then my trepidation about the custody of our son transferring to my brother-in-law in the event that both my husband and I should die in some tragic accident.  Then, I start to worry I’ll get cancer again, only this time I won’t live and my son will eventually forget me….because my husband will probably remarry a woman who won’t make room for my spirit and it’ll be like I never existed….but not before my little boy suffers the horrible, emotional toll of losing me.

Right now you’re probably thinking, Wow, you are one complicated, pain in the ass.  It’s true.  I am.

Eventually, I crescendo into the meltdown phase that typically includes incomprehensible half-sentences that go something like, “In 2008….that time at that place….and your ex-wife….and that other time….do I look swollen to you….I was hungry!”

Even I’m confused at that point.  Half of my brain is shouting, “Right on sister, you are totally justified!”  The other half is shouting, “You are bat-shit crazy, make it stop!”

The worst part, is that most of it could have been avoided had I taken an hour to reset.  To be fair, these escalations happen far more infrequently than they used to.  I’ve become much better at realizing I’m spiraling long before I morph into a bull in a china shop and commence smashing about.

Over the last year, this has been especially true.  Working out has given me an outlet to channel and purge all that stuff my brain doesn’t know what to do with.  It’s true, I’m surrounded by people in class, but I’m still able to disappear into myself….to reset.

And in that….I’ve lost a lot of weight.

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