Dark & Sinful: Dammit, Janet

Like many people, my New Year’s resolutions involve my body. It started young. Terminator 2: Judgment Day came out in the summer of 1991. On New Year’s Day 1992, I decided I’d lift weights until I had Linda Hamilton’s arms. A 12-year-old girl with guns. Diesel.

In July of 1993, I saw Janet Jackson’s “If” on MTV for the first time. On January 1, 1994, I resolved to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis my way to Janet’s abs: an all-dance, all-crunch workout. I was going to get ripped.

A few years ago, I decided to lose some of the alcohol bloat by drinking less beer and more vodka.

The results were the same as the time I said I would grow my hair out to look exactly like Blake Lively’s. No arms. No abs. More beer. More vodka. Short brown hair.

I have gone through gym phases. When I was in graduate school, I was a beast. Cardio. Strength training. Pilates. Kickboxing. Then I got a full-time job. Gainful employment apparently meant I had earned the right to be lazy: to come home from work and sit on the couch; to sit on the couch whenever I wasn’t at work. Sometimes there’s a brief treadmill stroll or a stint on the elliptical.

Alas, here it is: New Year’s 2015. Body shaming is so passé. We’re coming off the Year of the Butt. Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Bass” is certified platinum. I’ve heard the song in my car, bobbed my head along, raised my hand when she sings, Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two, in a kind of Hallelujah. But, really, my enthusiasm isn’t about body acceptance. It’s about pop culture allowing me to accept my sloth. Damn right I don’t have to be a size two! Catch me on the couch. Trainor may be bringing booty back; Erica’s bringing beer gut back.

The plan changed while I was home in Baltimore for Christmas. I spent a lot of time with my brother. He’s one of those annoying people who works out regularly and gets grumpy if he can’t. He runs, lifts weights, does Muay Thai…it’s nauseating. He takes gym clothes on vacation.

He laid down the gauntlet: What happened to your Janet Jackson plan?

He told me I can’t work my way to a six-pack by the end of the year. He didn’t mean Blue Moon.

Motherfucker, it’s on now.

Good old-fashioned sibling rivalry makes for good motivation. During the first week of 2015, I went to the gym every day. My ass was so sore from riding the stationary bike, I thought it might fall off.

I’d like to be one of those people motivated by a desire to be healthier. I’m not. But I am competitive. At the end of the year, I’m going to make my brother punch me in the stomach. His hand is going to hurt. My stomach will hurt more, but still.

OK — his hand probably won’t hurt. But I’ll win. And I’ll be a healthier person as a result. Of sound body, at least. Probably not mind.

Epilogue: I followed my five-day streak of going to the gym with another victory: a 7-day streak (and counting) of not going to the gym. I blame Meghan. 

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