Ambition is a slippery slope for me. When my over-active imagination collides with my perfectionist tendencies to create any kind of objective, I usually end up conceptualizing an insurmountable goal and then emotionally pummeling myself for not achieving it. Because there’s nothing quite like being bested by your own imagination.

Anyway, I am never more at risk for being slaughtered by my own ambition than when it comes to self improvement. For me, self improvement is endlessly cyclical–like a sad, creaky hamster wheel.

I am always somewhere on this cycle. In fact, just two weeks ago, I happened to be at the “attack goals with frenetic vigor” place. It was at that time that I decided to go running for the first time in weeks and then perform the calisthenics equivalent of bench pressing my entire, fully furnished house. In short: I made the fatal mistake of trying too hard (Let this be a lesson to you, kids.)

While it will not surprise you to learn that I injured myself along the way, it certainly shocked the shit out of me. I had forgotten one of the most important lessons of self improvement: Exercise does not like to be attacked with full force after weeks of half-assed efforts. Exercise does not appreciate being neglected. Exercise will cut you.

As a result of my dangerously enthusiastic workout routine, I pulled probably every muscle in my back and embarked on an entirely new journey I like to call: getting high-fived in the face by pain. This journey always walks me through the same three steps.

The first step is pretty benign:

(If at this moment, you’re like ‘Wait. The pain is talking to you? I think that’s schizophrenia.’ Shut up, because no, it’s not. And also, in my defense, this is just a dramatization.)

So after a few days of passively observing the pain in its new habitat (my entire, fucking torso), I progressed to the obvious next step:

I finally broke down and went to see the doctor last week, and GUESS WHAT!?! It’s not cancer (probably. I mean, not yet?) I have in fact pulled a few muscles, and so I’m taking it easy and waiting patiently (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) for them to heal.

Which brings me to the third and final stage of any illness or injury: the part where you forget what not having the illness or injury feels like and settle into an uncomfortable but hopefully-not-lasting friendship.

But the good news is that getting high-fived in the face by pain has ushered me safely into my favorite stage of the self improvement cycle: the “eat Cheetos in yoga pants” stage. AND since I am physically unable to lift my own TV remote, it will be a long time before I’m stupid enough to attempt any kind of self improvement efforts again. At least a few weeks anyway.



37 Responses to in which I am murdered by my own ambition

  1. TwoBusy says:

    Mmm… cheetos.

    Totally worth the pain.

  2. You really took the long way to the Cheetos on the couch, huh? This is why I cut right to the chase — I’m prudent and don’t want to risk injury. {Oh and feel better soon.}

  3. Mayor Gia says:

    Yeah, my genius sister recently did something similar. She injured her knee, and she found out luckily she probably didn’t tear her meniscus. Instead of continuing to rest it, she decided to start working out again. Now it’s really sore. *facepalm*

  4. Stephanie says:

    Your graph made me laugh out loud. Except mine would have reese’s pieces instead of cheetohs. Feel better soon!

  5. WilyGuy says:

    That first paragraph is poetry! It describes my issues with self to a T. I may need to get that on a t-shirt in a zazzle or cafepress store!


  6. Nicky says:

    I am all too familiar with that cycle. Oiy.

  7. Alexandra says:

    I wish I were that ambitious.

    I have never pulled a muscle IN MY LIFE.


  8. Anny P says:

    Every Wednesday, I go to a yoga class. For the first six months, I would be immobile by the time I got home on Wednesday evening. After a year, I’d become immobile on Thursday morning. After eighteen months, I get to Friday most weeks before I’m too stiff to move – is this progress?

  9. a) Gossip Girl Season 1 was amazeballs
    b) your cycle graph immediately went up on my pinterest board….with a disclaimer to substitute in Doritos for Cheetos, natch
    c) luv your funniness!

  10. leigh says:


    yes, exercise will cut you 😉

  11. Exercise does NOT like to be neglected. But I have been and I will pay. I think it found out I cheated…

  12. Alexis says:

    Cheetoes? Puhleeze. Pringles are where it’s at baby.

    Hope your back feels better soon. At least you hurt your back trying to do something positive. I hurt my back at Costco. There is nothing like having to explain to people that you injured yourself trying to maneuver stupid big food into your cart.

  13. Become a heavy drinker (alcoholic) and you will never feel pain again – except the pain of your family and friends constantly crying over your new addiction to Wild Turkey and Cheetos. Sometimes alcohol IS the answer. 🙂

    Rest up. Those goals are not going to reach themselves.

  14. Red says:

    We’ve missed you, but hopefully you’ll get over the pain soon!

  15. Jaime says:

    that sounds like a familiar routine…. *eats cheeto*

  16. Holly Folly says:

    Oh god yes. Since I am building a retaining wall by hand, and going to my regular job that also involves heavy lifting, I know stabby pain friend all too well (kill me.)

  17. Jazmine says:

    Hope you can overcome the pain..Its sounds familiar to me..Thanks for sharing..

  18. Kimberly says:

    this is SO familiar.. . are you WATCHING me!?? ?! 😉

  19. sheriji says:

    Most of my adult life has been spent fighting back problems. I blame 543 gazillion hours on a piano bench, and giving birth to children the size of the average 3-month old. But Anyway — my last bout went on for 3 months until I discovered my son’s Vicodin from his wisdom teeth extraction (he’s all growed up now). I took VERY small amounts, but stopped hurting enough that I could stop hurting myself more by walking all bent over like an 80-year old Quasimodo woman who had never drank a glass of milk willingly in her entire life.

    Oh, and your circle of good-intentions ending on Cheetohs made me laugh out loud. Reminded me of this, which pretty much sums up my life:

  20. bubba says:

    have you shaved your head or wut?

  21. Born27 says:

    I just can’t believe what can Cheetos can do to us. I’ve read lot of blogs which their problems are all about Cheetos.

  22. Kelly says:

    Oh god yes. Since I am building a retaining wall by hand, and going to my regular job that also involves heavy lifting, I know stabby pain friend all too well (kill me.)

  23. Lindsay says:

    that sounds like a familiar routine…. *eats cheeto*

  24. Karyn18 says:

    Cheetos.. cheetos.. cheetos.. Why is it we can’t resist eating it?
    That’s my greatest weakness too! I can’t help it, I’m too addicted to it!

  25. Jen Franklin says:

    Wow you have such a talent, Do you create all these sketches yourself?

  26. Mom says:

    I have abs that feel like someone took a knife to them, a horse show tomorrow and then Tuesday I got to start the process
    all over again. It does give a whole new meaning to the phrase “no pain, no gain” but you left out the part where you get up on the worse morning and say “I do this – why?”

  27. In my blogging ideas journal there is a note that says “CHEETO VODKA!!!” It is right under a list that includes “socks that smile back at you” and “intellectual prostitutes.” Unfortunately I both blog and journal (almost) exclusively while drunk, so I have no idea what ideas any of those statements reference. The Cheeto vodka thing sounds like it would have to be good, though.

  28. Pish Posh says:

    How have you invaded the workings of my own mind?

  29. […] Cycle of Self Improvement […]

  30. Sofia says:

    I remember thinking I was an olympic athlete and proceeded to pull my lower back. I too did the cheetos on the couch maneuver. Wasn’t my best performance, but everything can be cured with cheetos and non-stop viewing of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

  31. This is sadly all too familiar!

    When I do get myself back into exercise, I go all out – resulting in what you’ve described above.

    Lately, I’ve been reminding myself that anything worthwhile takes time. Going 110% is only going to lead to injuries and more setbacks.

    All the best on your recovery.

  32. […] Suggested Post: in which I am murdered by my ambition […]

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