• Wed, May 18 2011

Hunger Games: I’m Running For The Puppies

I’m 5’3” and definitely overweight. I’m not obese, but in the last 3 years with my boyfriend-to-husband I’ve put on about 20 pounds, and I was already overweight when I met him. I’ve tried working out, I genuinely have. I used to hit the college gym, I tried running, I tried walking – I really tried! But the fact of the matter is, I hate to sweat. I feel disgusting and the resulting endorphin-high from exercise barely manages to conceal my absolute loathing for running out of breath, turning purple, and being so sore I can barely lower myself onto the toilet to pee afterwards.

My mom has had the “you’re letting yourself go” chat with me although she phrases it “you’re not taking care of yourself”. I wholeheartedly agree. Not just in the weight department — this is a systemic failure on the part of my lifestyle. I haven’t had a physical in 3 years despite having continuous, good quality health insurance. I just figure if I’m not apparently dying of some terrible disease, I’m probably okay. I haven’t been to the dentist in approximately the same amount of time because I haven’t had a toothache. Sure, my wisdom teeth are growing in, but most of the world let them grow in, and they survive just fine. I take cough syrup when I have a cold and I brush my teeth regularly—I should be okay.

Somehow, reading a new book is way higher on my priority list than making sure I’m healthy (read: in shape). And I’m not quite sure why. I mean, I feel honest agony when clothes shopping and the thought of bathing suit season conjures up images of talking myself into going on hunger strike and claiming it’s for charity. I want to wear adorable belted dresses which are supposedly fabulous on fat girls! But belts look ridiculous because I don’t have a slim waist and they just cut off my rolls and make me look like a belted sausage. By the way, fat does NOT always mean you’re curvy. I’m as straight-waisted as I was before, except now I’ve got rolls to compliment it.

So I’ve decided I have to try again. I have to do SOMETHING because I want to be a good example to people in my life, and I want to represent myself well. I don’t want people to think that I don’t care about myself, because I do, even if physical improvement hasn’t ever been my focus.
I dove deep into my psyche (read: 5 minutes of self reflection) and decided on a strategy. I fly solo all the time. I hate working in groups because I hate having to rely on people, but most importantly, I hate having people rely on me. If it’s up to me, I wait until 5 minutes before that big meeting to prepare my proposal for a new program at work. But with groups, you have to consider other people, and I’m forced to work on the proposal at least the night before the meeting. I just can’t stand to let people down, to let people think I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain. So I need to bargain with someone in order to get myself motivated, I need someone depending on me to get my ass in gear.

And suddenly it came to me: puppies and kittens! No, really. I’m going to start running, and I’m going to run a race. And I’m going to make everyone I know give me money to run this race, and when I run it, I will donate that money to an animal rescue organization. Because picturing bikinis won’t make me want to run any harder or any faster. I live in New England, bikinis are only good for 3 months anyway, but picturing sad puppy eyes and knowing I can help save that skinny dog from harm is going to get me going. Hopefully, fantasies of beating up dog fighters, and running over cruel animal control officers in my car will get me going, and get me sweating—and keep me mad enough to forget that I’m turning purple, I have a cramp in my side, and there’s sweat running between my boobs.

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  • andrea dunlop

    Love this. Good luck!

  • Nicole

    what a great way to get motivated! after not exercising for a while, I always have to psych myself into getting through that initial stage of rebuilding muscle and endurance and wanting to die of sweatiness. don’t forget to take care of your whole body, though– hopefully running will get you jazzed to finally check in with a doc and dentist, right? they can also be great sources of motivation (like the one I hear a lot, “your gums are bleeding all over! start flossing!” when I’d never floss of my own volition.) best of luck with the race!

  • Meghan

    Do you HAVE a dog? Strange enough, they can help you get yourself motivated! I was a couch potato until I got a dog, and he NEEDED to be walked every four hours or I would have to clean up pee from my carpet and THAT is motivation!

    • Lisa Jean Castonguay

      I have a dog and a cat, both abused and rescued from various organizations. I would totally run with my dog, but he isn’t very well leash-trained and he freaks out a bit when large groups of people walk by. I want to build up my endurance before I start taking him on my runs… I figure the stronger my body is the less likely I’ll be to hit the pavement when he either tries to trip me with the leash or take off when he sees a group of fellow runners. :)

  • Marisa

    Oh man, I really really hate having sweaty boobs. But good luck, it’ll be worth it! :)

  • Ali

    I feel like you and I are kindred spirits. I love animals and would do anything for them (well anything for puppies, I like kittens too — but I’m a little less in love with them).

    I also have the same work mentality as you and I hate to sweat. However, if its for a puppy I will do just about anything.

    Good luck!

  • Jane

    This is a great motivating strategy.

    I have to protest the “cruel animal control officers” part though. As a veterinarian who has worked closely with animal control and in county shelters, I know firsthand that the officers are the unsung heroes of animal welfare. They are the reason that lost dogs eventually find their people again. They risk everything by going into dangerous situations – once I followed an officer into a crack house/dog fighting base to rescue an abandoned, starved female pit who was actively giving birth with her metal chain wrapped around her neck and legs, preventing her from moving. The officers endure horrors that you will never see and pick up roadkill to boot. Aggressive wild animal? Call them! And they do this for a pittance of a salary, and are dismally understaffed lately thanks to budget cuts.

    If you love animals, thank your ACC officers. Better yet, volunteer at your local shelter.

    • Lisa Jean Castonguay

      I understand that not all animal control officers are cruel, just like not all pit bull owners are dog fighters. Which is why I made the distinction of “cruel animal control officers” and not animal control officers in general.

      I cannot currently make a continuous commitment of my time to a shelter– which is why I’m donating money. Donating money is considered just as good as donating your time to most organizations– perhaps better. Extra volunteers don’t keep the lights on and food bills paid, after all.
      I do not accept the “save a few, kill the rest” thought process that pervades our current animal control facilities and when I DO have the time to regularly help out at an organization, it will be with a no-kill rescue organization that takes a more proactive approach to homeless animals.

  • Annie

    Oh my god, you are ME. We are EACH OTHER. I feel like I wrote this post. I am not overweight, just a little extra here and there, but I know I could have a kickass body if I tried. But I FUCKING HATE TRYING. And sweating is gross. And so are purple faces. But puppies and kittens are not gross! They rock! You have officially motivated me to sort of reflect for 5 minutes and maybe think about doing something someday in the future so I’m not so lazy, and doing it for a good cause. Thanks! Oh yeah, and animal control officers are the good guys, so please don’t run them over…

  • Rae

    Love, love, LOVE! I’m so doing this too.

  • Arnie

    I am the exact same way with motivation. I can let myself down fine. I can deal with that. But I just can’t bring myself to disappoint another person, and so I always do whatever it is I need to do if somebody else is relying on me to do it.
    I love this.