Scarlett’s Letter December 16, 2013

For the record, today got off to a much better start than yesterday, by design.

Off to a better start, by design. Did "my things" before going downstairs for breakfast.
Off to a better start, by design. Did “my things” before going downstairs for breakfast.

Today I did something terrifying. Something absolutely terrifying, something I’ve contemplated doing many times in the past three years, and I’ve always chickened out. Always. No matter how many Eleanor Roosevelt quotes I read, I chickened out. No, not skydiving. That was a pip. No, not running on a treadmill, I’ve nearly mastered that.  Today. Today, yes, today, I actually did it. I went to a spin class.

I’d no sooner run with the bulls or miss a BOGO sale at DSW than humiliate myself in a spin class. The people, the equipment, the stories, I’ve had friends say they fell off the bike, how do you fall off a stationary bike? Worst of all, the terrifying instructors, have you seen them? All super fit and up on that bike, on a pedestal, at the front of the class, able to shout loud enough to be heard over the music despite, their impressive level of exertion; demanding you stand up to pedal, turn up the resistance, pedal faster! My God! It is all just an episode of “Jackass” as far as I’m concerned, death defying and stupid, and lots of people are going to laugh really, really hard. At me. They might laugh so hard that Gatorade shoots out their nostrils, or they may laugh so hard they wet their little Lycra bike shorts! Or both!

It wasn’t so bad. Like marathon runners, spinners actually seem quite mortal, human, even. Of course, like everything I do, I had a very logical and strategic approach. I decided to go to the mid-day class. I figured the really rabid spin class folks I’ve seen waiting, frothing at the mouth, outside the classroom, at peak morning and evening hours, would likely be at work. I figured the mid-day class would be housewives and retirees. I was pretty much right. There were six of us. One lady just sat and pedaled at 45 rpm the entire time, with the exception of the water breaks, where she took it easier. No disrespect, she was there and it wasn’t her first time. Where have I been? Cowering over by the cardio equipment, watching the spin class in wide-eyed fear through the five inch wide glass in the door.

I got to the spin room early enough, I was the first, actually, fifteen minutes before the instructor arrived, in fact, in order to chat with the instructor to learn how to fit the bike and what the “commands” were. And it wasn’t so bad. Kind of like having a pit bull come racing towards you only to wag its tail and lick your hand, roll over on its back and wet itself. With this first class under my belt, or Lycra waistband, I now have the confidence to increase the resistance a little more, next time, and, even, maybe, attend a peak-hour class.

The next more fearsome thing I did today; I got on the scale. Oops. Time for atonement, and for toning a bit. It has been a long six-week jaunt from city to city, restaurant to restaurant and that sneaky ten snuck back on. Not that weight matters, but, I have been favoring my more forgiving Aeropostale “boyfriend” jeans to my sizable wardrobe of “Miss Me’s”. Gaining ten during busy travel season is typical, for me. Most of it will be gone by Christmas. Mom doesn’t understand why I won’t share her Panattone bread with her every morning for breakfast, “it’s Christmas”, she says. Um, no, it’s December 16th. On December 25th, Christmas, I might have a piece of Panattone bread. With butter. She warned, “what if it’s all gone by then?” Then I guess I won’t have any. There is a big difference between “it’s Christmas” and “it’s Christmas”. A month of indulgence is much worse than a day, or even two or three.

Ah, but I am not totally fearless. I was headed to Roseville, east of Sacramento, for happy hour with a ladies “Meet-Up” group I’ve been active with for a couple of years. They are a super nice group of women and so worth the hour and a half drive to socialize with for an event now and again. I knew the drive might take a little longer, with happy hour being, also, commute time, and I planned accordingly. I did not, however, anticipate the road construction ensnarled traffic I encountered on Highway 12 which links Napa’s Highway 29 to the rest of the country via Interstate 80. It took me nearly an hour just to get to Highway 12, which usually takes me about eleven minutes. This drive at 3:00 PM is far different than at my usual 3:00 AM. Afraid I’d arrive just in time to leave, again, I aborted and returned home. It is not often you will hear me say “afraid”, but there it is, at the beginning of a sentence. Figures, too, my hair was perfect, for the first time in a month, my outfit was smashing, new top from Victoria’s Secret, and rockin’ new black boots. Drat.

Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter.
Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter.

Guess I’ll take a “selfie”. Then put my baggy ol’ sweats and slippers on. And have a beer. Then go fix dinner. And do laundry, my gym clothes stink.

Perfect hair.
Perfect hair.
New blouse
New blouse
New boots (which you can't see).
New boots (which you can’t see).
Guess I'll fix dinner and do laundry.
Guess I’ll fix dinner and do laundry.
Jammies and beer.
Jammies and beer.

Just Do It

That was the Nike slogan a few years back, and it still resounds, it is still relevant and appropriate every morning I open my eyes to meet a new day. Just do it.

I don’t care if you weigh 400 pounds and can’t lift yourself off the couch or if you’re a 110 pound marathon runner, we owe it to ourselves, to our family, to our country to – just do it. To get healthy and remain healthy. Do it every day.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that between 2007 and 2009, 2.4 million people became obese. Harvard researchers fear that 42% of Americans will be obese within the very near future, and this, they estimate to expand to 75% by the year 2020, if we don’t change our ways. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that weight related diseases account for ten percent of all medical spending, impacting the cost of health insurance for all of us. Employers are terrified of this trend and how to cover the increases that are expected as we become larger and larger. My employer offers us monetary incentives (reduced rates and reimbursement plans) for active and healthful lifestyles. The National Institute of Health estimates that $75 – $125 billion is spent each year on the direct and indirect costs associated with obesity related diseases.  Being unhealthy is a burden not only to yourself, your family, loved ones, but to our nation. This goes way beyond being a personal lifestyle choice. The choice may be personal, the cost is global.

I don’t care how you start. Just do it. Find a success story that inspires you, read it, follow it if its ongoing, then make your own story. Seek medical advice, trying, at all costs, to avoid quick fixes like surgery and prescriptions. More lasting, satisfying and meaningful results come from one thing only; more lasting, satisfying and meaningful work. Hard work, daily sweat, and adopting moderation into your life. With each day comes some small triumph, and in time, however long it takes, your life is reshaped, remodeled. The burden is lifted.

This will require great effort, of course. But think of the great effort your life already requires. Is there a significant amount of effort required to stand up, to walk any distance, to bend over, to tie your shoes, to go to the bathroom, to bathe. This will just be a gradual exchange of effort.

If you are resistant to the idea of changing yourself for the better, talk to somebody you trust, a friend, an expert of some sort, a therapist; what are the underlying causes for your resistance, for your self destructive behavior? Get to the root of the cause, resolve those issues, then take the next step, the step to better health, now knowing you are worth it and you deserve it, you were always worth it.

An alarming trend in our society, coincidentally matching our increase in obesity, our increase in heart disease, in diabetes is the advocation of tolerance for obesity. I, personally, do not think less of overweight people, having been one myself (my BMI put me in the “overweight” category for the better part of two decades, and I flirted with “obese” a time or two). I will admit, though, that people who won’t make an effort to become healthier, just baffle me. Being baffled is not disrespect. I respect everyone for who they are, whatever shape or size (or color or creed, or nationality or religion, or political party or sexual orientation). I just really want to help! I want everyone to be able to really experience health, to experience life, to be fulfilled. 

Now to be brutally honest; as a frequent flyer, when I see a new baby, a toddler or an obese person enter the cabin door, I’d prefer to sit next to the baby or the toddler because at least I’ll have room for my shoulders. If someone is going to take up a quarter of my shoulder space, all of the arm rest and prevent me from being able to sit comfortably, maybe even cross my legs at some point during the flight, I’d like them to contribute to the cost for the portion of my space they’re using. Thank you very much. 

There is another movement afoot, of sorts, that I find quite offensive, and it seems to be somewhat in line with the tolerance for obesity campaign, and that is the public disrespect of skinny people, skinny girls in particular. “Skinny bitch” is actually the phrase I see most. Just like some people have a natural tendency to be large, others have a natural tendency to be slight. By no fault of their own. The persecution of these people is as cruel as the persecution of the obese. It doesn’t hurt any less. Persecution is never appropriate, on any basis, for any reason. 

For those of us who have to work very, very, very hard keeping unwanted pounds off, the persecution of thinness causes, in me, besides a silent explicative, the same reaction the gun control issue invokes in me, “you want to take sides and fight it out?” In both cases, being both armed and fit, I’m thinking the odds are in my favor. But let’s not go there, shall we? Luckily, I have great self control, I am able to control, for the most part what I eat, how my firearms behave, and I even have some control over my thoughts. 

Just do it. Make the effort to make a change. After two years of hard work and sacrifice, having lost fifty pounds and five pant sizes, I was able to do an hour on the cardio machines, an hour of Zumba and an hour of cardio weight lifting, in the same night, if I chose to (which was not all that often). But running a single mile, outdoors, on real terrain, seemed insurmountable. I joined a running club, my impetus was to run 13 by 13, and the day I did my timed mile, to identify which “pace group” I would train with, I was so triumphant! I ran a whole mile without stopping. I ran a whole mile at a fairly respectable time, though my heart rate was way off the charts. Within a few months, I’d moved up a couple of pace groups and could run six, seven, eight miles. Another month and I could run ten or twelve. I completed my first half marathon running at a pace a full minute faster than I’d trained at. Then, I ran eighteen, then twenty miles. I continue to run. Now I’m shooting for a full marathon, which, honestly, seems insurmountable right now. 

It all starts with the very first step. It all starts when you lace up your shoes, stand up and take that very first step. Every step forward is a success, no matter how far you go. One little step forward is one little step further than you were yesterday! Whether you are running or walking, whether a block, a mile or a marathon, every step forward is a triumph.

My first home work out video, when I first started this journey, I did half the warm up, half-heartedly. Sweating and panting, I was impressed with myself that I was able to remain standing to view the remainder of the forty minute video (thanks Jillian Michaels). Within a week, I was able to complete, with effort, the video, following the “beginner girl”. Now, I can run twenty miles, I cannot complete a Jillian Michaels video at the hardest level, following the “advanced girl”. And I’ve just begun the “Insanity” work out series, talk about humbling, there is no “beginner girl”, I am the “beginner girl”. I have yet to finish every exercise in any one video. But I make progress every, single day. Just sayin’, don’t let what others can do discourage you, there should ALWAYS be someone to inspire you, there should always be something to aspire to. Marathon runners often continue to strive for longer distances, fifty kilometers, fifty miles, a hundred kilometers, a hundred miles. Seriously. Weight lifters always strive to lift more weight, high jumpers always try to reach new heights, long jumpers, new lengths. There is no athlete out there content with where they are. Athlete, or not, we should not be content with where we are. 

I am fifty pounds lighter, I wear a single digit jean size. I am not content. I have more capacity for improvement in my cardiovascular fitness. I definitely have more muscle tone I could develop, I still have the whole rest of my life to keep fit to live to it’s fullest. 

And I know I’ll never be perfect, I’ll always have a little extra skin on my belly when I lean over, I’ll probably always have a bit of cellulite, I’ll always have those stretch marks. Does that prevent me from moving ahead? No! Hell, no! That isn’t the point. It isn’t at all about how I look, it is so much more about how I feel! And I want you all to feel as good as I do, all the time! I feel amazing! My ability to manage stress is greatly improved, my energy and enthusiasm is greatly improved. I am more focussed on tasks, I get more accomplished in a day. I am so much happier. What doesn’t sound appealing about all that?

So, I invite you. Just do it. I’ll be right there with you!

What’s on My Kindle – Books I’ve Read and Recommend

The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible by Ali Binazir

Mastering Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body – by Jillian Michaels

Veronica Monet’s Sex Secrets of Escorts – Tips from a Pro – by Veronica Monet

Relax, Focus, Succeed – Karl Palachuk

How to Have an Orgasm as Often as You Want – Rachael Swift

The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

You Can Be Happy No Matter What – Five Principles for Keeping Life in perspective – Richard Carlson, PhD

French Women Don’t Get Fat – The Secret of Eating for Pleasure – Mireille Guiliano

French Women for Al Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes & Pleasure – Mireille Guiliano

A Woman’s Worth – Marianne Williamson

He Comes Next – Ian Kerner