Some ladder

This summer marks 20 years that I have been in the working world. I had to go down to the guidance counselor’s office and obtain a work permit, since in Illinois you had to be at least 16 years old to get a job without one.

If she had told me that the biggest day-to-day obstacle I would face in my professional career would be sharing a bathroom with women who leave pee and hairs on toilet seats, I would have laughed in your face.

And yet, here we are.

Looking ahead

It’s easy to get caught up in the doldrums of the day-to-day, so I thought I’d focus on some things I’m looking forward to in the coming months (in no particular order):

Warmer weather! This weekend was gorgeous. It was in the mid 70s and sunny all weekend. The next couple days will be similar, and then we’ll all descend into panic about tornadoes and severe thunderstorms and I’ll bite my fingernails to the quick worrying about if my house has been blown down. But that’s springtime in Middle Tennessee, and if you want the sunny, warm days you have to put up with the rainy, windy, scary ones.

Meeting my new niece. My sister had a baby about a week ago, and I’m really looking forward to driving up to Chicago to visit my family and see this little nugget. How old are babies before they can learn how to play video games and understand feminism and analyze social constructs? I need to exert my influence as an aunt sooner rather than later.

Vacations. Ian and I have a few trips planned for later this year that I’m really, really excited about.

Camping. I guess this goes along with warmer weather, but I am really tired of being cooped up indoors. I cannot wait until it’s nice enough to spend an entire day, night and the next morning out in the woods.

Playing more Skyrim. I’ve gotten away from playing it lately in favor of some other games, but with the recently released DLC my interest is renewed.

Yep. Life is looking good.

Get moving

I live a fairly sedentary life. And by “fairly,” I mean I sit in a car for two or more hours a day, in front of a computer for eight to nine and then on the couch for the remaining hours in the day that I’m not laying down in the bed.

Last fall, I decided I wanted to start working with a personal trainer since I wasn’t challenging myself in the gym. I met with him and explained that I wasn’t looking to lose weight, but rather tone some of this jiggle I’ve picked up in my 30s and work on my endurance. So I could have a better chance at surviving the zombie apocalypse, I explained.

At my first meeting with him, after realizing he and Ian knew each other from high school, we discussed my diet. “Nutrition is a big part of exercise,” he said. “You’re a fatty,” I heard, despite that was neither the truth nor what he was telling me. Reality dictates that eating cheese and bread three meals a day isn’t the best way to build lean muscle, and he believes that if you eat healthy you’ll have better results in the gym.

But I wasn’t ready to hear it. I was all, “I have value even if I’m jiggly!” — completely missing the point that regardless of body type, we all need to eat well. Even more so if I was going to build muscle. I resisted his advice to replace my sugar and carb festival with friendly fats and more whole foods, and I found myself nearly passing out during our workouts.

I stopped going to the gym during December and most of January, but during that time I thought a lot about my body. About why I had joined a gym, why I wanted to get healthier in general and why I hired someone to help me achieve that goal. Eventually, I realized that eating well and exercising and trying to shape my body doesn’t mean that I have no value as-is. It means that I want to feel better when I wake up in the morning, and have that feeling continue throughout the day. It means that I want to be able to run up the stairs without getting winded. Or be able to run if being chased.

But—and this is probably going to sound really shitty—I have been thin my entire life. “Slender” is how my trainer and my doctor have described me, and while I can eat like an asshole and drink like a fish without gaining any noticeable weight, I realized I am going to have to work hard to get into shape. And never having worried about this before, it’s really fucking difficult. (Please play me your tiny violins now.)

But I’ve jumped in head-first and am actually seeing results. I’ve been on a low carb, low dairy, low sugar, no alcohol (ok I cheat there) diet for about six weeks and I can already tell a difference. I no longer almost faint during workouts. I’ve seen some jiggle disappear and I’ve discovered muscles I never knew my body possessed, let alone used.

While weight loss is not my goal, I am weighing myself daily to get more in tune with how my body reacts to this routine, and I am still finding myself disappointed when I gain and happy when I lose—a mindset from which I need to figure out how to extricate myself. Especially since my weight fluctuates five pounds either way on a weekly to bi-weekly basis, and has done so pretty much my entire life.

I’ve found my clothing is looser yet I basically weigh the same, which should tell me right there that I’m on track for achieving my goals. But as a woman, I’m bombarded daily with messages that tell me I’m not worth anything unless I’m constantly losing weight. I know that’s not true, but the tapes play over and over in my head. It’s a battle I continue to wage.

But at least I’m up off the couch. At least I am moving.