Words & Banter

Selfish, Shallow … And Svelte?

Photo by Black

I keep thinking about Black's explanation in a recent Ask R&B about exercise that her motivation's "selfish and shallow" and due to the fact she's invested a small fortune accumulating size 2 clothing for decades. What she neglected to mention was that she wasn't always a size 2. And there was no apology just, in typical Black fashion, a statement of fact and an acknowledgment of her reality.

So, yes, on the surface, Black's motivation may seem, even to her, selfish and shallow. But the more I think about it, the more I think it reveals a side of Black that's not about her collection of designer clothing or even the financial investment.

First, there's commitment. A promise or decision to do something and stick with it. Yes, we all make commitments, but let's be honest, the ones we make, let alone keep, tend to be for short-term or one-off things. Like calling a friend or making sure we spend less time on our gizmo and more time with our kids or partner. We always start with good intentions, but how often does it truly become a lifelong habit? How often do we "commit" to something that will require a fundamental change in our behavior that will be difficult to make and even harder to maintain?

Which takes me to perseverance. Let's be real. How many of us could truly maintain a rigorous exercise schedule for years, let alone decades? Forget the motivation. That's a lot of years of keeping to something that at times is difficult and sometimes even painful. (Black hurt her back in high school doing gymnastics, has bad knees because of running on concrete for too many years, and I'm sure has the typical aches and pains that come naturally with aging.)

Finally, we have overcoming obstacles. I've already listed several, but this may be the biggest one of all. I know that Black loves pasta! (Occasionally, I've seen her indulge, but usually see her exerting extreme willpower.) In fact, she loves carbs. Full stop. And if that isn't a big enough obstacle to overcome, then I don't know what else to say to you. Except, keeping with the carb theme …

Cake may not be one of her temptations, but the proverbial icing on the cake regarding Black's "selfish and shallow" motivation is that because of her commitment, perseverance, and ability to overcome obstacles, she's also svelte.
Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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