The obvious answer is because I eat beans all the time, which means my digestive tract really takes care of business, if you know what I mean.

That, and I have a mother who found an old picture of me the other day in which I am photographed at a bizarre angle making me look like I have a double chin that elicited her to say, “Ew! Look how fat you look! I’m glad you’re not fat. I wouldn’t love you then.” Well, she didn’t say that last part, but I’m pretty sure that’s implicit. (I love you, mom!)

But there’s also a less obvious (and less alternatively disgusting and disturbing) answer to that statement and that is my love of pushing my body to unknown limits. And while I’ve always been that way when if comes to mental exercise (as in, I like to test the limits of what the absolute lowest level of mental activity a conscious person may have at any given time is), only recently have I discovered how much I love to push myself physically. I blame my short foray into gym culture for this.

Seriously, those two weeks at the gym every damn day really ruined the formerly fairly lazy me. (And yes, for the record, I pronounce the word “ruined” like Stewie Griffin.) No longer could I watch The View, then Wendy Williams, then Tyra Banks, then Ellen, then Dr. Phil, then Oprah without feeling like I should be doing something else, as well. Something that involves moving more than my arm from my bean can to my mouth.

“You just wait a second, you crazy, offensive bitch,” you’re probably thinking. “How DARE you, Marissa, think to do anything but give your undivided attention to those six outstanding daytime television programs?! You are America’s Unemployed Sweetheart Asshole and we expect you to play your part accordingly!”

And trust me, this Payne feels your pain. I should be fine with doing nothing more than cracking a can of beans, lounging on the one piece of furniture I have remaining in my hobo lair and watching daytime television until I pass out into a near comatose state, which I often refer to as my “unemployment nap.” But no. I can’t do that anymore. Not since I’ve had the taste of the sweat that dripped ever-so-slowly down my forehead into the corner of my mouth.

Indeed, gym sweat is my human meat.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And, boy, to I have the hunger! Especially since a legitimate gym is no longer an option for me. (Sidebar: Why don’t gyms have reasonable short-term plans? Wack.)

And so with my lack of ability to commit to a year-long membership, as well as my general lack of funding to even pay for such a membership, I find myself doing random things about the house here and there to stay in shape: Weight training with what else but delicious canned produce; taking six flights of stairs in my building opposed to the elevator; I even did a couple of cartwheels this morning in all my newfound space selling my furniture has cleared up.

And while those things are all good to feel a slight, almost transient burn, to get that “I can’t decide if I want to puke or pass out, but I’ve also never felt this good in my life” burn, I’ve turned to the streets. That is, prostitution I either jog or, as I did this weekend and plan on doing at least another couple of times before I leave here (read: before I finally get the nerve to sell Baguette to the highest bidder), I rode 40+ miles out to Mt. Vernon and back.

My legs still ache.

But I love that. Not only do I love it because it will keep me from getting fat, but it’s physical evidence that I’m out there living; that I’m utilizing this body I’ve been blessed with, with its two working arms and two working legs, the best I can. Because, honestly, sh*t happens (and I’m not just referring to good, bean sh*t here), and one day I may not have four working limbs, so…

And on that note, I gotta say, I get angry when I see people who can’t walk up a flight of stairs without taking a break. It’s almost like these enormous people have no idea how lucky they are to even have the ability to walk in the first place. Put down the McGangBang that you got in the drive-thru and pick up a carrot and start moving. Now, I know it’s not that easy. There’s all kinds of things involved here like “self-esteem,” different genes, etc., but I’m not even talking about weight here necessarily. I’m talking about health and happiness. Neither, I believe, is easy to achieve in modern society. But I’m convinced (at least for myself), if you put in a lot of effort, if you push yourself past what you think your self-imposed limits are, you’ll be rewarded with a feeling of accomplishment, a new “F*ck yeah!” attitude and maybe even a new pants size.

Like I said, it’s not easy (nothing in life worth having ever really is), but when you push through your desire at mile 35 (or on stair number 3) to get off the bike (or “take a breather”), and instead you keep going for your goal — maybe even surpassing your goal — any problems you’re having in life will seem a little more insignificant. Endorphins are rad that way.

And because I’ve somehow gotten all serious suddenly, I’ll end with a little bit of Buddhism (Because, apparently, I am now a dirty hippie. I blame the dirty hippie backpack.):

“Every 24-hour day is a tremendous gift to us. So we all should learn to live in a way that maes joy and happiness possible…Breathe in and tell yourself that a new day has been offered to you, and you have to be here to live it.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

In other words, put down the Oreos (or at least the entire box) and get a taste of that human meat (the proverbial kind, that is). Or at least put the McGangBang down. Or maybe just limit your intake to one every four years…

***Oh, and I’ve been reminded to remind you that my e-send off (read: your time to come slap me in the face in person) is all set to go down this Wednesday, Sept. 23, upstairs at Chief Ike’s around 8 p.m. We shall indulge in caloric-laden alcoholic beverages after which I will probably go to McDonalds and get my leap-year McGangBang.***