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Aug 18, 2011

My days of being lazy are over.  I had wonderful reasons why I shouldn't exercise -- like a sprained ankle that wouldn't heal, chronic bronchitis, fatigue, stress, and boobs, apparently (a friend reminded me of that excuse a couple of days ago, a classic one I used years ago when we lived in the same state and she'd try to get me to go jogging with her). 

But I was caught off guard by a woman in an Army uniform who I work for -- intimidating, right?  She basically ordered me to begin training for the Army PT (Physical Training) Test in November. 

"Mary El," she said, menacingly.  "The Army PT test is coming up and you're eligible to take it.  Maybe we can get a few of the other girls in the office to participate too."  The glint in her eye shot through me like an arrow.  Take the Army PT test?  Is she crazy?!  I had a flashback to the last time a soldier talked me into doing PT with him and a bunch of drill sergeants.  Sure, no one made fun of me, but goodness gracious I was terrible. 

"Uhhh..." I cowered, trying to buy time and form a response that would get me out of it.  "My ankle."  It's all I could muster.

"I thought your ankle was better?  You wear heels all the time now," she said, sneering at me.

"'s too hot."

"Then use a treadmill!  And anyway, the heat wave is supposed to break in a couple of days.  Come on, you can do this," she insisted.

"I, uh, you know, stress and all, uh, and my neighborhood isn't as nice as it used to be, and uh..."

"Just run through a park, there are trails everywhere!  Isn't there a trail near you?"

What is this, an interrogation?!  I thought.  "Oh right, I'll just run through the one Chandra Levy was buried in.  No worries."

"I actually run through that park all the time," she giggled...I mean cackled. 

I finally agreed, thinking that I could just say yes and then not train and when PT Test Day arrived I'd say, "Whoops! TOTALLY forgot to train for this.  Maybe next year!"

But later that day, after returning from a meeting, I found a training schedule lying on my desk with the words "START AUGUST 15" written on the top and circled in yellow highlighter, not to mention all the chiding comments written throughout, like "You can do this!" and "Take this part easy, you'll build up to it!"

That night I considered it, and then I realized that my sole New Year's Resolution for 2011 was to get back in shape.  Ugh.  So I dug out my Nikes, which are still in good condition because two months into running last year I sprained my ankle and stopped wearing them, bought a new, cute t-shirt from Target as an incentive, and on August 16th I went for my first run in a year (hey, I was only one day late, that's acceptable).

Turns out picking up running again is just like picking up riding a bicycle again.  Almost immediately I felt strong, powerful, energetic and skinny, and a dull headache that had been bugging me all day disappeared.  Back at home I had to do as many push-ups (the girlie kind) and sit-ups as I could in 30 seconds (it was about 10 each).  Training is every other day, which means today I go again.  This afternoon a familiar feeling came over me -- I was looking forward to getting home to change into my little running shorts, cute Target t-shirt and running shoes and pound the pavement.  And miraculously I feel less fatigued after one just one day of running than I usually do when I take it easy catching up on "Toddlers & Tiaras" (that Eden Wood is such a Mean Girl in training) and "Design Star" (I lurv making fun of the obnoxiously fake host) in the evenings.

Another thing I was reminded of, which is a big lesson I learned from last year's ankle injury, is to listen to my body.  A running guru works down the hall, and I filled him in on my first day of training earlier. 

"Did you have any pain?" he asked.

"Just in my right shin, I get shin splints so easily.  But I just ran through it."  As soon as the words came out of my mouth I realized that's the same thing I did when I sprained my ankle last summer, and then it took 10 months for the dang thing to heal.

"Don't do that again," he said.  "Next time you go for a run, warm up with a five-minute walk then run for one minute only.  Walk for four minutes then run for one.  Do that until you finish.  You may feel like you can do more, but hold back until you build up the muscles you need to support this new activity."

So tonight that is the plan, as well as more push-ups (still on my knees, but hopefully I'll be able to crank out one real one by PT Test Day) and sit-ups. I also plan to treat myself to something yummy, like chocolate covered peanut brittle from Trader Joe's, and a delicious (and pretty!) sports drink, whichever color I'm in the mood for.  I recently got turned on to Neuro Drinks, but due to lack of calorie burnage I thought I shouldn't drink them too much (champagne, on the other hand, is always acceptable).  I'm a total dum dum, because they're only 35 calories each and are loaded with vitamins, plus different elements that support whatever mood you're in. 

Aren't they pretty? Yummy too.

Tonight I'll be drinking Neuro Trim, in case you were wondering, because the other selling point on beginning training now is I forgot I'm in Ashmi's wedding in less than a month and I have to wear a midriff-bearing saree.  SCARY!

If you'd like to follow my training schedule, you can download it here.

And if you'd like to try Neuro Drinks for yourself, you can buy them here.  I'm also giving away a case of them to one fitness-minded reader!  Here's three ways to win:

1) Tweet about me (@CupcakesDC) and Neuro Drinks (@DrinkNeuro) -- something good, you're not gonna win if you tell me I'm going to fail miserably, even though I probably will.

2) Comment below on why now is a good time to get in shape, or how I inspire you to do so.

3) Like "Cupcakes and Shoes" and "DrinkNeuro" on Facebook, and tag us in a Facebook post telling us how and why you stay fit.

(If you're wondering, yes, this is a ploy to get all the encouragement I possibly can so I will actually go through with this.) 

I'll announce a winner next Friday, August 26, 2011.  Spread the word!


Due to technical difficulties during the non-hurricane in DC, I wasn't able to update this on Friday.  But I'm happy to announce that we have a winner!  Chosen at random from everyone's names written on folded up pink Post-Its (I'm Old School, what can I say?), the winner of the Neuro Drinks Giveaway is...


Email me with your contact info and I'll send you a case of Neuro Drinks!  Enjoy!


  1. Oh Mary El!!!!!

    I hope you can actually get in shape this time. :) I think you've worked out more than I have in the past year.... (Is that encouraging or what?) but maybe I'll try to work out, too (ok, maybe that's encouraging.)

    Good luck!!!


    P.S. I moved closer to you, so maybe that means I'll actually get to see you for more than 5 seconds some time soon. :)

  2. This is wonderful news! I bet I know who was the "Army gal" behind all this! Good advice starting slow. You'll be running miles in no time :)

  3. I found Neuro drinks at a 7-Eleven near where I dance on Saturdays and I'm a total sucker for them. I haven't had sex with anyone after drinking the NeuroGasm but I aim to!

    Good for you for getting back in shape! I'm trying (poorly) myself! This post encourages me, though.

  4. Now is a great time to get in shape... because I'm running a half marathon in October!

    I'm also doing the run/walk thing and I did it for a whole half hour last night!! It's definitely a good way to ease back into physical activity.

    Good luck on the PT test!

  5. Pearl, it is GOING to happen. For both of us! Do it!

  6. Maureen, you left right in time, otherwise you would have been dragged into this too! (Of course you'd probably like it...)

  7. Paulidin, you're full of crap, but thanks for telling me my post encouraged you. You're officially in the running to winning the giveaway!

  8. Great. Myself and a buddy started tracking our running and weight in June. Both of us are up over 3 miles and down 20 lbs.

    Best of luck!

    I told you I read your blog.

  9. I was totally going to enter this contest until I saw it required three steps. Today I pulled an invasive vine off a chain link fence for two hours, suspended 12 feet off the ground. Plus, I walked around Costco for an hour right after, pushing a cart of 150+lbs. How much running does that equate to? In any case, take it slow, take Advil, ice anything that aches immediately, carry mace, and save some of that Neuro for the next home meeting at your pad.

  10. Uh, David Miller, you just entered. (Hahaha, guess I didn't make it clear that those were three WAYS to enter.)

  11. Getting in shape now is as good of a time as any really. I'm hoping to get myself in shape as well. I'd rather have a six pack than a keg goin on so just give me time till I get there. :D

    I think you and everyone else can do it! Lets get going! :D