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.