the last laugh. at myself.

I love this: You Have To Work Out To Get A Workout.

I spent the past year faithfully exercising along to Jillian Michaels videos, 20, 30, 50, or 60 minutes a day, every day. (I think I didn’t exercise 7 or 8 days last year, due to illnesses. That’s right: out of 365 days, I exercised on about 357 of them.)

I haven’t lost weight, as that was not my goal. But. BUT:

My joints don’t hurt. My back doesn’t hurt. I can go for a run and… nothing hurts. And. AND:

I started Jillian Michaels’ “yoga” workout (it is not at all, in no way, shape or form, something that should be called anything but “yoga inspired” or “a workout with some yoga vocabulary and a few yoga positions”) this week. It is really, seriously, challenging for a girl like me.

I told my husband about it–my husband, who does *real* yoga. He does his practice in the evenings. He found a routine he liked online, and he asked if I wanted to do it with him, but he warned me: “It’s really hard–I was sweating at the end. It’s about an hour.”

“Okay,” I said tentatively. “I’ll try it.”

We did it. And my husband was impressed, and a bit surprised, I think, that I kept up. That I was strong. That even when I couldn’t do something absolutely completely, I did as much as I could (knowing it would take time to get there).

“Your core is really strong, you were really good!”

There are few things that make me prouder of myself than when my husband comments on my physical strength.  When I met him, you see, he was at the gym every day, for 60 to 90 minutes. He. Was. Built.

He was the one who got me into running. It was 1999, and we left my apartment one afternoon, to run, just a mile. He wanted me to try it (he had moved on from weight-lifting and wanted to train for a marathon). We went about… a quarter of a mile and were starting up a bit of an incline, which to me, felt like a 75-degree slope. I huffed and puffed and panted.

“I don’t think I can do this. My lungs are just not able to…” [gasp gasp sputter sputter]

“You can do this. There is NOTHING wrong with your lungs. Come on!”

And so, I became a runner. Thanks to him (his voice in my head) I ran the Army 10-miler in 2000, and the Marine Corps Marathon in 2001.

Flash forward to 2013, after a couple of kids, light jogging for about a decade here and there, elliptical training sort of regularly for a couple years.  Running (sometimes walking) a quarter-marathon in 2010, then finding out that a slightly herniated disc in my neck made high-impact exercise a bit of a no-no… A back that “went out” in 2011, followed by a dislocated kneecap a month later…

Quite a bummer: a level of physical weakness that I found a bit appalling. And intolerable.

Enter Jillian.

Now, because I am stronger, I can pursue yoga with a bit more confidence in myself — which was holding me back from really “getting” yoga. A lack of confidence, that is.

Because. BECAUSE. “Working out,” as Hamilton Nolan notes, is not simply living your life. It is effort. Regular effort, beyond what you normally do. It is discomfort, regular discomfort, that rationally, your mind rejects.

And when you do it, when you work, your confidence grows. Confidence in what you can do, and confidence that if you can’t do something now, you will one day be able to, because “now” is not “forever.”

Confidence that you have to learn things, and re-learn things, over and over. (What you knew in 1999… fades over time.)

The mind needs a workout, too.


don’t worry, just look.

I read, a few days too late, Hamilton Nolan’s piece in Gawker, reminding the world that Journalism is Not Narcissism, thanks to Amanda Marcotte’s takedown of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s latest essay.

Ouch. So let me clarify. Or call a mulligan. Request a do-over. Whatever.

Consider “choosing balance,” my first attempt at Shapiro’s humiliation essay exercise. Here’s the bottom line–or the short little post I could have written, not to humiliate myself but to assert myself as a person who knows what the hell I’m talking about when it comes to relationships and a good marriage:

I have a great life with a great man because I learned, repeatedly, what another life with the wrong man might have looked like. I know what it feels like to be respected by another, because I know what it’s like not to be. I had options. I chose well. I was tired of being a fool.

Despicably boring, I know. Maybe the details I provided earlier support that statement above. I hope so. All I want to do is make a point, nicely and cleanly. And maybe encourage you to think about your own life.

Relate. Reflect. That’s all I want: to be a certain kind of mirror.