Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm So Not The Boss Of Me

Sometimes, when I'm feeling wistful, I'll wish that I could get addicted to things that are good for me. I seem to be developing a little problem with Everlasting Gobstoppers, for instance. How come I can't become obsessed with something like hugging trees or exercise?

Speaking of exercise, you may all throw me a little parade because I got up at 5:30am - 5:30am!!! - this morning to go work out. Turns out there is this whole little universe of people who get up early to do healthy things. Who knew?

It began when my friend Jackie sent me a Facebook message a few days ago asking if I'd meet her at the gym this morning at 6am. After nearly choking on my Everlasting Gobstopper, I thought about it. Why not? Why can't I be one of those people who gets up early to go do things? I could think of it like a cultural experiment - who ARE those people and what do they look like? Before I could stop myself I sent her a message back, saying I would meet her. There. Now I was committed. I don't mind letting myself down, but other people are a different story. Jackie was counting on me. Her whole world would crumble if I wasn't there, right?

For the past year Steve has been asking me, with varying degrees of politeness and subtlety, to work out. He can find an opening for this topic in any conversation:

Me: "How bout those Red Sox, huh?"

Steve: "Yeah. They must work out a lot."

Me: "Are you calling me fat?"

Or this:

Steve: "I've got this situation with a client I really need to work out."

Me: "Are you calling me fat?"

Or this:

Steve: "I wonder if we'll ever work out the situation in the Middle East and no-I'm-not-calling-you-fat."

I'm a little touchy about the topic of exercise. I know it's good for me. I know it gives me more energy, I'm nicer and more in balance when I'm working out. If sitting around wishing you felt like working out burned calories, I'd be a super model.

I've learned something about myself in the past couple of years, though. If I pressure myself to do something out of obligation, or because I feel like I have to, I simply won't do it. I can make a quiet rebellion out of anything.

Steve figured out a while ago that asking me if I'm going to the gym is a dead end. With him off my back, I started arguing with myself about it: I don't have time, I don't need pressure to do one more thing, nobody tells me what to do, dammit! Not even me!

So I waited. I let myself off the hook completely, told myself I don't have to work out if I don't want to, that I'm fine just the way I am. Pressure's off. Sure enough, the next day I get Jackie's message and I think, "Sure? Why not?"

It was Steve who sealed the deal, though. Last night I nonchalantly asked him to set the alarm clock for 5:30am, like it was no big thing.

"WHAT?!?" he gaped. "5:30am? YOU?"

"Sure, why not?" I replied. "I told Jackie I'd meet her."

"You didn't leave yourself a little trapdoor? A little way out?" he asked.

"Well, I did mention that Greta isn't feeling well, and that if she is worse tomorrow morning I may not be able to go."

"You are SO not going."

"Yes I am."

"I will eat my left eyeball if you go. Seriously."

"Get out the knife and fork, baby, because I'm going."

Nobody tells me what I can't do, either.

Well played, Steve. Well played.


  1. Why did Willy Wonka have to be such a great cook? I am stuck on Rainbow Nerds(6oz)box! I do love them and in true addict form...I just can't stop since I quit the booze! Damn!

  2. so how will steve be preparing his left eyeball? this is what curious people need to know, now. :D

  3. I have rediscovered that going out for a walk/jog in the morning is a great way to seize some "me" time that makes me feel better all day.

    The problem is, the toddler almost always wakes up before us, regardless of how early I plan to get up. It's like his internal alarm is set to 15-minutes-before-the-real-alarm-clock.

    So then I get to choose between me time (leaving a very cross child and husband behind) and staying home feeling angry at everyone. My husband decides he likes the grumpy wife less than the grumpy mama, so I've been getting out a lot this week.

    Of course, then there's the issue of the cat that follows me on walks...

  4. oh my, I meant he likes the grumpy wife less than the grumpy CHILD. Some interesting Freudian slip there...

  5. I love you, El. Tell Jackie to email me.

  6. ME TOO.

    Here's an example. I used to secretly read your blog...you know, a lurker. I would not comment though because for some reason I thought that if I did, it would mean that I had to quit drinking. (huh?) I think I commented once and I can remember feeling all itchy, like I had just committed to something. Being an addict is so weird. It had to be on MY terms, NOT YOURS. And you didn't even know you were arguing with me...

    Now back to my Mike and Ikes.

  7. Heather of the EO - OMG I did things like that all the time before I got sober. I kept a copy of Caroline Knapp's Drinking, A Love Story in my underwear drawer for like 5 years, because I didn't want anyone to know I was reading it. Hello?

    And thanks to your Tweet earlier, I'm weaning myself off Everlasting Gobstoppers with Mike & Ikes. :)

  8. Kate from the Atlanta burbsFebruary 9, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    Um, Ellie? Can you call my husband Stephen and see if he can get me to get up and work out too? Maybe Steve and Stephen could brainstorm together?! Seriously, I almost spit out the Hershey Kisses I am obsessed with... I have almost resorted to begging one of my friends to bet me that I could not lose the weight!

  9. I just wanted to tell you congratulations on your going to work out. And, 5:30 a.m., of all things! That's wonderful! I have a hard time dragging myself out of the hotel on my trips at 4:30 a.m. to work flights leaving at 5:30 or so.

  10. I'm sitting here w/ my two pound bag of Twizzlers, and a bag of Hershey's kisses... {today marks two weeks of being sober for me...} and you're at least making me think about getting up to go to the gym... that's a start! :)
    (I came over via Heather... and now I'm looking at your labels since it's right next to this comment box, you have a Finn??? I have a Fynn :) lovely name choice!)

  11. Ah!!! He's a smart one, your hubby! I've been back on "working out" since Jan. 5th (yes ma'am, i'm still counting the days, just like i did with the first 90 days of sobriety!) ... i haven't yet hit the "i love exercise" point, however I am happy to do it now. :)

  12. Good grief woman, 6 a.m.?? I desperately need to work out but I know it will not be at 6 a.m.

    I too wish I could be addicted to things that are good for me.Computer and coffee are not, so far, containing the size of my a$$.

  13. You are my hero. I have made it abundantly clear that exercise will not happen in my life if I have to get up early to do it. I'm spoiled by a gym membership with childcare, so I can go at the reasonable hour of 9:00 a.m. That is, when I go.

  14. I came over from Heather's blog because I love Heather and if she likes you, you must be a keeper! Looking forward to reading and learning more about and from you!

  15. Kate from the Atlanta burbsNovember 24, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    Um, Ellie? Can you call my husband Stephen and see if he can get me to get up and work out too? Maybe Steve and Stephen could brainstorm together?! Seriously, I almost spit out the Hershey Kisses I am obsessed with... I have almost resorted to begging one of my friends to bet me that I could not lose the weight!