Just a message from your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man

The line to get into the gym after New Years resembled a nightclub as I pulled into the parking lot. The only difference was women were clad in tight-fitting neon (yet perfectly coordinated) activewear rather than the little black dress. Without intending to, I looked at my gym bag. All I had packed was my usual garb: a pair of stretchy pants, comfortable shoes, and a loose (but breathable) shirt. I’d missed the memo.

piemotivationI made my way through the crowd and into the hall o’cardio. It is a massive room with rows of equipment. Usually, there is plenty available, but today it was packed to near capacity. I was going to have to make do with whatever was free, which likely meant I would be stuck on the machine with the squeaky gear and poor ear bud connection. Sure there are far worse problems to have, but annoying sounds are like kryptonite for my exercise motivation (as are a lot of things).

Sure enough, even though the room was crowded, Ye Olde squeaker just happened to be available. Lucky me. Passing some full-length mirrors along the way, I noticed my reflection, and it was difficult to repress a sigh at what I saw. I don’t consider myself exceptionally large for my frame, but I could drop five (or a dozen) pounds without people worrying if I was eating enough. While I haven’t yet completely surrendered to their call, I now understand why ‘mom jeans’ exist. Thanks, kids.

As I mounted Ye Olde Squeaker and keyed up the day’s torture program, I found myself looking for my friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. No, I don’t mean the web crawler from the comics. I mean a large full-grown adult male who comes to the gym clad in a short-sleeved, short-pantsed, skin-tight Spider-Man outfit.

I’d noticed him almost immediately when I began attending the gym. After all, it was hard not to. At first, I almost felt sorry for him for being that clueless. Then, I wondered if he lost a bet, but I saw him again the following week in the same outfit and again the next. If it was a bet, it was a big one.

This cycle repeated at least once a week throughout 2015. I would go to the gym and Spider-Man would be there too. Over time, I realized I had grown to expect a sighting of this fashion disaster with each visit. Once spotted, I’d feel a little better about my own choices, which made it easier to power through my workout with gusto. (Okay gusto may be a stretch, but at least, I felt good enough about my performance afterward to return another day.) Eventually, though, I realized I’d even come to respect Spider-Man. He, clearly, was a person who did not care what anyone else thought. Instead of thinking he looked ridiculous, I now wished I could be half as confident.

But there was no sign of him during the first week of the new year among the horde of toned bodies. Bodies which I could only guess were only there either because they were on the payroll of some brand of activewear, hired to act as living models or they were paid by the gym to entice members into signing up for additional services. I glanced again at my reflection as my finger lingered over the start button. I saw my well-worn sweats and at my extra curves that refused to quit and thought why was I bothering? I felt my resolve begin to crumble.

Stop it Allie.

You have two options:

You can use your hour of ‘me time’ the way you intended to or you can go home and chase after boys housebound due to rain over the last several days.

Good Point Allie.

Getting ready for the Electric Run back when I did get the neon menu

Getting ready for the 5K Electric Run a couple years ago. For the record, I still don’t understand people who run for fun.

I told myself to ignore the crowd, at least this once. I rationalized most of them wouldn’t be around for long. A quarter would give up their resolutions before the end of February. Another group will likely drop in April when the weather starts to warm and there are actual things to do outside. I cranked up the volume on my phone and got to work.

Suddenly it hit me. I knew it wasn’t going to be crowded long because I’d been going to the gym regularly for months. I was no resolution mayfly (my waistline isn’t the only part about me that is stubborn). I remembered the real reason I was there (me – curves and all). I gave it all I had. Afterward, Ye Olde Squeaker proudly displayed my accomplishment – one of my personal bests. I rowed and used the free weights too. In short, I rocked my workout that afternoon.

I may not be model fit. I may be undertall. But I’ll face my goals and power through another year. Who knows, maybe one day I might even be like Spider-Man too.

After all – Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.

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How to create a dinner of champions

I may have actually stumbled upon the secret to get my toddler to willingly eat more than mac n’ cheese and applesauce at dinner time!

My eldest son spoiled me rotten. As a baby he loved sweet peas, and as a kindergartener one of his favorite meals is chicken nuggets with a strawberries and a side salad. Yes. A side salad. And not just lettuce smeared with ranch dressing. No, he prefers a drizzle of balsamic glaze. I was therefore fully unprepared for the challenge that is my youngest son at meal times.

So sayeth the toddler

Greens need not touch his plate. In fact, go ahead and extend that to most other food groups. If the food on his plate wasn’t a complex carb – well he just wasn’t interested. We tried plane sounds. We tried rewards and other bribery such as promising deserts. He sealed his lips tighter than Fort Knox. We tried trickery. He returned the favor by hiding it all in his cheeks and spitting it out later. We told him that if he didn’t eat his dinner he would be sent to time out or even to bed. He chose time out. And I don’t just mean by continuing with attitude. I mean my toddler actually said, in clear English, with a smile on his face, “I wan time out.”

My toddler is now two and a half, which means I only have to live with the terrible twos for another few months. [Then I get the joy of the trying threes! Yippee!!!] As a result, you may believe that he will naturally become more willing to try new things as maturing. Perhaps. But perhaps he requires more incentive to change his behavior. Perhaps we all do.

Vision without execution is hallucinationI recently read a post suggesting that everyone should find themselves an accountability partner. I loved the idea and brought it up with my hubby. He and I are both idea people, and idea people tend to make terrible executors if left to their own devices. Not because they don’t want to execute on their original idea, just because there is always a nicer, shinier, new idea just waiting to be developed. I asked him if he’d be willing to start setting a personal goal each week which we’d discuss over Sunday dinner. He agreed to try.

Sunday rolled around and we started discussing what we wanted to accomplish this week. Our kindergartener caught on and wanted to come up with his own goal for the week. Excellent! We agreed that we would all take on one small bite sized goal for the week. If we were all successful at the end of the week as a family, we’d award ourselves with a single star. If we could all earn twenty stars then we’d go on a vacation. Kiddo was sold. He loves winning, no matter what the rules of the game are. Then he asked what his brother’s goal should be. We thought about and agreed that he had to try his food every night this week.

Sunday dinner went smoothly. Monday’s too. Then Tuesday night, toddler stubbornness was back in full effect. I sighed and said, well I guess we aren’t getting a star this week as I tried to figure out my next strategy. Suddenly Kiddo was by his brother’s side cheering his brother along. My toddler may enjoy tests of will against me, but adores his brother above all things and wants to be just like him. His mouth opened and in went the food. The star was saved for another day and there was much rejoicing.

Execution is made easiest when you allow your team to take ownership of the method, and the best incentives are the ones the team comes up with themselves. All the leader is supposed to do is provide a clear vision of where they want to go and then get out of the way while his or her team does what they do best in order to get there. It would seem this is just as true in the house as it is the office.

It has only been a few days, but I am optimistic that my family will be healthier and stronger, or at least better fed, as a result of this experiment. With a little determination and a lot of accountability, the seats around out dinner table on Sundays will soon be filled with champions.