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Monday, September 23, 2013

Exercise. Bacon. I don't know.

I have no rights to use this image.
I found it doing a Google search for
'fat unicorn', on a site called DrawForMe,
by someone called 'Jeremy'.
Jeremy, if you want credit for this,
let me know who you are.
Please don't sue me.

Hello, darlings. I hope you’re all feeling fabulous today. I’m feeling fat, lazy and marginally confrontational, so naturally I thought, “It must be time to blog!” I’m kidding. Mostly. I actually just felt a little guilty for neglecting you lately, and by ‘neglecting’ I mean ‘not regaling you with my extremely opinionated and most likely biased and judgmental rants in a timely manner’. So, here I am. Hope you’re still with me.

Today I want talk about fitness. And labels. And eating. And more labels. And – just for variety – stereotypes. And did I mention labels? Always a favorite of yours and mine, darlings – labels, labels, labels. The way we judge ourselves and others – even when we pretend we don’t use them. Ah, hypocrisy, today thy name is Unicorn!

‘But Unicorn,’ I hear you yawn. ‘What the hell are you going on about this time? I thought we didn't DO labels here. Have you gone off your … whatever it is that Unicorns are normally on and go off of?’ Relax, darling, your babbling Unicorn is neither ON nor OFF anything at all – other than my normal caffeinated hijinx, from which I will only be parted by incarceration or death. Hopefully neither. But I am feeling just the tiniest bit hypocritical today, my darlings. Grab yourself a triple-mocha latte and let me tell you why.

No, shit, there I was – Oh, I should stop and explain here that a wise man once told me that all good stories must begin that way. ‘No shit, there I was.’ It doesn't even matter if the story is about you or not. Just say it. Trust me on this one. No shit, there I was, on the couch eating a handful of candy corn  – and yes, this is a true story about moi, so don’t start wondering already if this is some kind of hypothetical, metaphorical bullshit. It was really me, I was really there, and no excrement was involved. Got it? Ok, now that that’s clear as mud…

No shit, there I was, sitting – or rather lounging, as sitting implies much more effort that I've been putting into anything lately – on the couch. I had a handful of candy corn, which I was munching, attempting to motivate myself to get up and exercise.

Don’t try to bring logic into this. Just go with it.

You see, darlings, I am no longer what one would refer to as a ‘young’ Unicorn, unless one needed prescription lenses and did not have them at hand and had to make do with squinting really hard. And liked to lie a lot. Let me clarify: I’m certainly not old, per se, and my pasture days are hopefully far ahead of me, but there are more days than there are not wherein I notice that my coltish figure is perhaps a bit fuller than it was in the spirited days of my youth. And while there is definitely still a lot of perk in my prance, let’s just say that I look forward to kind of oats you munch almost as much as the ones you sow. Or something. I’m a little fluffy, and I don’t apologize for enjoying my creature comforts as much as the next mythical creature, so don’t judge me.

So, noticing this, I made up my mind to get into better shape. Please notice the modifier ‘better’ – even I didn't try to lie to myself that I would magically get into ‘good’ shape, or even just shape. ‘Better’ implies improvement, which is all I could make myself commit to on such short notice. By which I mean almost a year and a half ago.

Let me interrupt myself to insert that I am not one of those people who believes that all gay people have to be in perfect physical condition. (I’m using ‘gay’ here as a catch-all term for the sake of expediency. Again, just go with it. I mean every flavor of LGBTQA-alphabet soup, including yours, your brother’s, your grandmother’s, and the label-rejecter’s down the block.) Not that I have anything against hotties – and have even been considered one, not-so-far-back-in-the-day. I just don’t think it’s anyone’s responsibility to starve themselves or work out ‘round the clock just to live up to some stereotypical image of what the Gold Standard Gay should look like. I have neither time nor interest enough for that. If you do, more power to you, but it’s just not me. I have better things to do with my time. Like sit on the couch, munching candy corn and finishing off season 1 of ‘Orange is the New Black’ on Netflix. Which is about where you came into this story, but allow me to backtrack just a teensy bit more before going forwards.

So, a year a half ago, the Universe had given me a kind of cosmic boot to the head (nya, nya!). I woke up one morning, not feeling particularly maudlin, but with the very clear realization that something was Very Wrong Here(tm). Here I was, ::mumble:: years old, ::mumble:: pounds over the fictionally small ‘recommended’ number on the chart my doctor had shown me, and getting lazier and … fluffier … day by day. I had lost not one  but both parents, ridiculously (in my opinion) young, one to cancer, and one to circulatory problems caused by clogged arteries, complicated by cancer. I had very little immediate family left. And I was doing nothing to improve my own life expectancy other than pretty much stopping exercising and eating as much deep-friend garbage as I could get my hands on. STUPID and careless Unicorn!

Another digression into labels, if I may. At this point a year and a half ago, I had also very recently formed a relationship with the person I am lucky enough to call my life-partner. You know how I said I don’t think anyone should have to conform to anyone else’s ideas of how they should look? Well, I also don’t think that it has to be universal law that once you find ‘The One’ and settle down, you let yourself go. I mean, yes, I did that, but I don’t think it has to be that way. And it’s not like I’m not a reasonably-intelligent creature that knows how to keep that from happening. The last time I’d lived alone, in California, that kind of thing had seemed somehow easier.

It’s not just that I was ::ahem:: younger  then. My whole lifestyle was different. This was Northern California in early 2000. I was working a high pressure (and high-paying) role as a contract recruiter. I woke up early – sometimes as early as 4:30am – and worked out. My normal routine was 30 minutes of Tae Bo (stop laughing, please), usually followed by an hour of aerobics (with Jane or Richard) or 50 minutes of yoga (Jane again). During work, I took a ‘coffee break’ at 10am, which meant 15-20 minutes of walking outside. Lunch was an hour-long walk, followed by a vegetarian burrito at my desk. Oh, yes, did I mention that I was mostly vegetarian at this time, too? More on that in a  bit. And when I got home? More often than not, another 40 minutes or so of either fast walking or, if feeling particularly inspired, a walk/jog combo. Was I crazy? Maybe. But I was also young(er), single, and desperately trying to find myself. What I usually found was that no matter how busy I was keeping myself – much too busy for a social life, which is every bit as counterproductive as it sounds – I still wasn't happy with how I looked. That’s a recipe for an eating disorder if I ever heard one, but fortunately I like to eat (and despise vomiting) too much, so I was spared that, at least.

Then, semi-vegetarian, working out like a mad idiot, and at least 5 sizes smaller than I currently I am – I felt fat and unfulfilled. Have you heard that saying, “Don’t you wish you could go back to the size you were the first time you thought you were fat?” Yeah. That. I was still way in the closet then, too, which definitely contributed to my overall sense of ‘no matter what I do, I’m not happy with myself’. Where was I going with this? Oh, yes. So, back to a year and a half ago, I met someone who filled my life with so much joy that I apparently decided to kill myself with food and inactivity. Cool, huh? Rather a backwards move for someone as happy as I was (and am), now that I’d found the person I wanted to spend what I hope will be a very long and healthy life with.

Ok, back to a year and a half ago. I was now working from home (an awesome arrangement, which I highly recommend if you can get it – as long as you keep an active social network outside the house or you’ll go bugshit). I had ‘come out’ fairly recently, and had a decent social network – a small but amazing group of friends, as well as my new partner, and things seemed great. So why did I decide to eat crap and pretty much not do anything? I’m honestly not sure. I may just be one of those people who, when we’re happy, enjoys doing anything – including doing nothing but getting fluffier. So, my mother had recently passed. With the wake-up call from the Universe still ringing in my ears, I decided to “get into better shape”.

Nothing happened.

I don’t mean I didn't do anything. I flirted with vegetarianism again for a while. I don’t mean to piss anybody off with this, but I will tell you straight out that when I’m not eating meat, I’m not doing it because of how mean we are to chickens or because of how cows cry in the slaughterhouse chutes (both of those are true, though). I do it because sometimes I don’t really feel like eating meat, and I find I can make better choices about what I’m putting into my body if I eliminate meat as an option. Although I tend to resist authority and have a very ‘you’re not the boss of me’ attitude about pretty much everything, with food I guess I do better with rules. But then there’s bacon. So, that didn't work. I also tried to start exercising again. I started skating (which I love), but struggled a lot with it. I have fallen arches (fat Unicorn!), and I have weak lung capacity (preemie Unicorn – that one’s not my fault). It takes me quite a while to do enough gentle aerobic activity to increase my lung capacity and my aerobic health, but rather than keep pressing forward and making progress, I pretty much stopped except for a token few laps around the track every couple of weeks. I was discouraged because it didn't really seem to be working. So – I guess I gave up, and let everything stay status quo until pretty much – today.

Ah, today, the glorious someday to which we awaken every day and then turn our hopes and aspirations towards ever-elusive tomorrow! For weeks – months, actually – I've been bitching and moaning about my weight, about feeling tired when I try to do things, about how much crap I was putting into my body, and how all of those things are probably conspiring to kill me. I spent an almost equal amount of time telling myself and others that it didn't matter, because I loved myself and was happy with my life, and if my time was short, that just meant I’d have to live every day to the fullest! That’s kind of my motto, anyhow – don’t waste today, and live each day as if there may be no tomorrow.

Then the ‘hypocrisy’ bell started ringing, and the gigantic freaking neon light started flashing over my head until even  I could see it. Just because the numbers seemed stacked against me, that didn't mean I had to help. I’d lost people I love – way too many of them, and much too soon. But I didn't have to volunteer to join them, and I certainly didn't have to keep digging my grave with a fork and shovel. And just because my partner and I do make it a point to travel when we can and do the things we want, that doesn't mean that on the days we’re at home, I should live on the couch sucking down sweet-and-sour shrimp and rum-raisin ice cream until I literally become the slug I felt like in my mind.

So, today I promised myself that I’d get up at 7am and work out. It might not be 90 minutes of Tae Bo and aerobics, but it would be something, damn it.

I slept until 10. My alarm went off. I just didn't care.

Great start, right? The best laid plans of mice and men and all that. But rather than beat myself up over it, I sat on the couch, watched a little TV, had an awesome lunch prepared by my awesome partner, and at 4:00, I went upstairs and exercised. It was nothing much: Sweatin’ to the Oldies II (which is a great tape, by the way), and I was soundly humiliated by watching Richard and a studio full of people – many of whom outweigh me by 100-plus pounds – run rings around me. I had to rest a few times. I didn't do all the moves. But I also kept going, even though my puny little lungs were begging me to give up during the warm-up, for chrissakes, and by the end of it I actually felt like I’d accomplished something.

In fact, I sat down at my desk to write to you, darlings, right after drinking my ‘post-exercise’ water, and before heading to a very-much-anticipated soak in the tub to celebrate not dying. Because I realized something, and apparently felt I should share it with you, even to the expense of comfort and personal hygiene:

I am no longer young as I once was – but I am not as old as I hope to be one day.

I am no longer a svelte little hottie – but I’m pretty damn cute, if I do say so myself.

I may not be able to commit to being a vegan (although I do admit I fantasize about it sometimes) or a vegetarian, and I don’t have to be ‘perfect’ in my eating to make changes that will have long-term life-changing positive results. Food is not the enemy, and I can make it my friend. Also, bacon.

I’m fun and interesting, and I think I’m pretty damn amusing.

I try to be a good person and not hurt anybody, even if they deserve it. If anyone doesn't like that, or doesn't like me, they can take their opinions and stick ‘em where the sun don’t shine, because we only get one go-around on this planet (that we know of), and what we do with it is our own business and nobody else’s. The decisions I make are mine to make, including the mistakes, and I have the right to make those and learn from them just like anybody else does. I hope I keep learning for the rest of my life – and that I have a nice, long one in which to keep doing so, and that some of the things I've learned I may be able to share. Maybe with you. And maybe you will meet someone someday who will need to hear it, and you'll go, "What was it that Unicorn said that time? No shit, there I was..."

I’m not sure what the point of all of this was. 

If you made it through this far, maybe you can let me know what you think the point is. Is it to live and laugh and love and just take every day as it comes, and try to do the best you can without hurting anyone – even yourself? Maybe. Maybe it’s that even if things seem hard and out of control, you can always find one thing to let you say, “No matter what else happens today, I made this good decision right now. Everything else is bonus.” Or maybe it’s that sometimes you can be a vegetarian who eats bacon.

But for now, it’s time for a soak in the tub, an egg salad sandwich lovingly prepared by the love of my life, and two more episodes of ‘Orange is the New Black’. We’re almost at the end of season 1, and I have to find out if that hateful CO gets what’s coming to him.

I’ll set my alarm for 7 again tomorrow.

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Thank you for reading, darlings. Comment if you feel moved to do so; Unicorns love feedback! Live well, love lots, laugh as often as possible, and – as always- be fabulous to each other!


2 comments:

  1. I think you're fabulous, Unicorn, just the way you are. But if you'd like to be in better shape for your health's sake, which it sounds like you would like to be, I know you can do it. As someone else who's a bit "fluffier" than she would like to be, I fall off the fitness wagon sometimes too. But I get back on. Eventually. Sounds like you do, too. I think a lot of people struggle with this. But we can DO this! You are SO not alone. We take it a day at a time and do the best we can, and remain, as always, fabulous.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, darling... Fluff is not the enemy, but I'm glad I'm learning to enjoy the journey without worrying about the destination. There may never be a 'someday', and I don't want to live my life waiting for some magic series of events or achievements before I'm ready to 'live' and be happy. Much fabulousity to you, too!

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