Separate from my (now infamous) teenage anorexia, I was also a sit-up addict. I don’t know why – I wasn’t especially interested in any other sort of fitness. In fact, I wasn’t even seeking a six-, four-, or two-pack. I just wanted tone.
I think part of the reasoning was, “food goes to the stomach, so abuse the stomach.” Also, I think one time I saw an anorexic girl on Oprah talk about doing 300 sit-ups a day and thought, Hey, that sounds way better than bulimia as a convenient companion to my anorexia.
Seriously. Fun times.
In any event, I left both the anorexia and the sit-ups by the wayside in college when I discovered things like all-you-can-eat cafeteria mac’n’cheese.
Fast forward a decade past my multi-hundred sit-up prime and my entire abdomen is a joke. And, not a laughing-with-it joke, either.
No, they are definitely to be laughed at.
When fiancee introduced a simple, nightly crunch regimen to get into absolutely drool-worthy shape for her trip to Australia I simply watched – sometimes while eating ice cream – because my abs, they are no longer. Even a standard set of crunches gets me huffing and puffing, and that doesn’t even get into the pure horror of any sort of side crunch that attacks the love-handle area.
A bit insulting, perhaps, that my future wife is in tip-topper shape than me with barely any effort, but it’s not really injuring my pride. After all, it’s not as though I’m spilling out of my clothes here – I’m just weak in the mid-section. I still eat better than ninety percent of the population of America. I still walk three miles or more a day from spring to fall. I just don’t cause her whiplash when I walk by with my shirt off.
However, what did add insult to injury was Elise’s younger brother.
He’s already a better singer and actor than I was at his age, which I can at least rationalize as due to his vastly superior genetics (I mean, we are talking about Elise’s brother, here). Yet, on top of that last year he out-of-the-blue started working out daily.
I was skeptical. I made all sorts of resolutions in high school, but the only two I actually stuck with were playing guitar and try to subsist solely on water and Altoids.
For a while all he had to show for it was endurance for the boredom of jogging and an altogether terrifying skill at Dance Dance Revolution. Now he has actual muscles! Abs, pecs – you name it. And, not just while impressively flexing – he has muscles even while at rest!
When I played DDR in front of him over Christmas I felt like a cow skipping rope. Oh, and did I mention that their father runs marathons, and that when he deigned to run my company’s ten mile race last year he posted the best time of everyone I know? And her sister, the non-fitness-nut, is currently serving out the remainder of her Fulbright Scholarship teaching English. In Taiwan.
I’ll be a legally bound part of this family in a scant nine months, and the peer pressure is starting to mount. To date I’ve skated by on the account of being an academic-wunderkind and a singer-songwriter. Then I had a few months of grace on the “wow, that’s a nice hunk of diamonds you bought for my sister/daughter.”
I’m going to have to step up my over-achievement, lest I become permanently tagged as the fat, lazy, dumb member of their family. (And, theirs is a beauty contest that I am never destined to win (unless I plan several thousands of dollars of plastic surgery (and this is not a post about my need to compete with my own mother))).
My grad school indecision is about to continue into it’s fourth year, so I don’t see a Fullbright in my immediate future, and – let’s face it – I’m not planning on running anywhere anytime soon. (Being the longest-running blog in Philadelphia has so far won me no respect.)
My most realistic aim in this impending crash-course in sibling (and parental) rivalry is somewhere between the fitness levels of my fiancee and her brother – more than a nightly crunch routine, but less than a military-like regimen that causes high school girls to forget how to breathe.
Really, I’d be happy with enough to get Elise to gawk at me when I walk around the house naked, which rises in frequency as the weather improves.