Doing the JAR

by Madeline Laughs

005The blogging group I joined asked that we do a post about staying fit, even though we sit to write and lead very sedentary lives as writers. I remembered my friend Nic had posted about making a jar with slips of paper in it. On the paper she wrote different stay-fit activities she could do during the day as she sat at her desk working.

Yesterday I made my own jar and today at 9AM I start using it! I thought it might be fun to write about it throughout today, just to see how well (or not) I do staying on task.



I decided to use my phone to alert me every time 30 minutes had passed and realized I had only 15 minutes to change out of my pajamas before the Day of the Jar began. I raced back to my bedroom and donned my sneakers and work out gear. I wanted to be prepared for whatever slip I pulled out of the jar and not scrambling to get dressed just so I could execute it.

9AM and the alarm blared just like it was supposed to! The cats reacted in complete surprise and wondered what new thing I had instituted as I squealed with delight, “Yay! It’s starting!” I had no idea I would get so excited about this, but I was excited! I grabbed the phone to silence the alarm and immediately reset it for 30 minutes later.

I ran to the jar and pulled out my first slip of paper:

Do 25 Hip Lifts, each side

This was an exercise I learned in my last round of physical therapy for my back. You lay on your side, bend your knees so your body is in a L shape, then lift the top leg, kind of like a scissor lift.

I did 25 of them on each side.

Felt amazing!

At 10:12AM I realized my alarm had not gone off. I had been sitting here the whole time engrossed in writing, editing and creating draft posts and had almost forgotten about the Jar! I quickly walked over to the coffee table and looked at my phone to make sure it was working properly. I realized that in my haste and excitement to reset the alarm, I had changed it to PM too. Well, that explains a lot. I was now behind on one task and would make it up the next go around.

I reset the alarm and pulled a paper slip from the jar.

Drink 2 glasses of water.

I filled 2 glasses with water and sat back down to continue what I was doing.

At 10:42 AM the alarm finds me in the kitchen. After my first glass of water I realized how hungry I was, so I decided to make a smoothie. Before I made the smoothie I wanted to clean up the kitchen, so I loaded the dishwasher and cleaned out the crockpot from last night’s dinner. Then I proceeded to load up my new single serving blender/smoothie cup with everything I liked. Here’s a link to my favorite smoothie recipe!

I still had a glass of water to drink and now I had a full container of smoothie to drink too.

I shut off the alarm and reset it this time for 15 minutes to make up for the one that I was behind. I pulled a slip out of the jar.

Walk around the block.

Throwing on my jacket, I grabbed my keys, my sunglasses and the smoothie and hit the street.

This was awesome!

Who cares that I haven’t brushed my teeth yet? Or my hair? I was outside on my first real day off and it was before noon! I happily trudged along and took deep, cleansing breaths.

Did I leave the cat on the deck when I left the house? Oops! He will be pretty needy when I get back.

Walking along I realized my block is full of trash, most of it from McDonald’s fast food restaurant that is right across the street from this block. In my head I composed an email, shaming them into coming over here and picking up trash. I wondered if that would work.

I said hello to the 2 guys that are slowly digging up our neighborhood to install the new Charter Cable upgrade. I don’t subscribe to Charter so this means nothing to me, other than the eyesore of their piles of cables on every corner and the overturned sand ditches they leave in their wake.

I arrive back at my front door with just enough time to pee before the alarm starts blaring again. I let the cat in, reset the alarm and grab a slip out of the Jar on my way to the bathroom. Right as I sit down, I open the slip of paper.

Walk around the block.

AGAIN?! I just got back! The cat rubs his face on my knee as I contemplate cheating the Jar and putting this one back to grab another one. I decide to play fair and put my jacket back on, grab my shades, my still unfinished smoothie and my keys and head towards the door.

Meanwhile the cat is happily helping himself to my 2nd glass of water that I still have to drink.

This trip around the block I decide that if the trash is to be picked up, I will probably be the one to do it. I’ll add this to the Jar as a task and whittle away at it for the rest of the week. I don’t say hi to the Charter guys, but I do wave because it seems they stop working and watch me whenever I pass by and I like to be polite.

I am most definitely brushing my teeth when I get home!

No sooner had I made it through the door for the second time when the alarm is blaring again. I reset it for 30 minutes and pull a slip of paper from the Jar.

15 minutes on treadmill.

Was I trying to kill myself yesterday when I filled these out? Okay RALLY! RALLY!  The treadmill is downstairs so I check my list of things to do to see if there’s something I can accomplish while I’m down there.

1. Laundry

2. Bring up yoga mat

I scratch both of them off and head out the door to the garage.

Yesterday we replaced our hot water heater and it was quite a mess while they were working on it. Last night, knowing I’d be going down there to work out today, I asked my husband if they had left a mess. He looked at me and replied “Oh no! It’s fine!

Obviously, his idea of fine and mine are totally different.

I spent some time putting things away and straightening up. Then I loaded some laundry into the washer before unpinning my treadmill and lowering the track to walk on.

Why is my treadmill in the closed position, you might wonder?

Last year when my husband and his buddy decided to get into better shape, they utilized our garage downstairs as their P90 studio. Let me be very clear, neither of them are out of shape by any means. They’re rock solid and gorgeous. But they spent all last spring becoming even more rock solid and more gorgeous.

And they broke most of my workout bands and used the treadmill as a shelf to stack things on when things got in their way.

I would get all dressed to go downstairs to walk on the treadmill and it would have mounds of various crap stacked on it. A few times I moved the crap off of it and chided my husband that it was not a shelf, but this would be a great way to ruin the walking belt. He ignored me and stacked more stuff on it later.

Finally I just gave up using the treadmill altogether. It wasn’t worth it to constantly get pissed off before a workout. It defeated my purposes completely.

I wanted to bring my yoga mat upstairs so I could use it throughout the day when I did floor exercises, but also to remember to pack it for out of town trips. I started looking around for my yoga mat and it wasn’t where I left it. I looked in places I wouldn’t have put it and still it was no where to be found. After 15 minutes on the treadmill I sent a text to my husband and his buddy;

Where is my yoga mat?

My husband and his friend had put workout flooring downstairs and so he replied;

The downstairs floor is softer than any yoga mat!

Well, DER! I know that! So I replied;

I want the yoga mat upstairs! And in my hotel room when I travel and I shouldn’t have to give a reason because it’s my fucking yoga mat and it’s not where I left it!

I’ll just have to buy a new one.

12 noon and the alarm goes off again.

Do 10 squats.

No sweat! I balance using the kitchen counter and squat, squat, squat. Then I finish that 2nd glass of water. I’m back on schedule!


Do something pretty.

I define something pretty as all of those things I forget to do, but probably should do more often. For instance, plucking my eyebrows or doing a mud mask. Those would fall squarely into the pretty category.


Answer an email.

Nic told me that she also added other tasks to her jar like Make a funny face, etc. So I decided to add some things to my jar that would remind me to connect with people I love. Sending an email out of the blue seemed like a great way to do that.


Do 25 jumping jacks.

I hadn’t done jumping jacks in so long that to do them today felt really weird.

I wasn’t just sitting around waiting for the alarm to go off either. I had a whole list of things that had to be accomplished today. I confirmed my dental appointment, called the computer repair guy and scheduled a time to stop by to have something on my laptop fixed, called the credit card company to dispute a charge, folded laundry, prepared for my new assignment at work, etc. A whole lot of stuff in between!


Do 10 squats.

Okay, now my thighs are sore.


Do 25 Hip Lifts, each side.


Do 25 jumping jacks.

These were a little easier this time.

I’m only doing the Jar until 5PM because then I have my domestic goddess duties to perform, like making dinner. I decided to do two more Jar tasks, One at 4PM and another at 5PM and then call it a day.


Do 10 squats.

Holy crap! My thighs are killing me! One more to go and my day of the Jar is done!


Stretch hamstrings.

What a great way to end the first day using the Jar! Tomorrow I’m going to do it again!

About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Doing the JAR

  1. nikkifrankhamilton says:

    Girl….I am exhausted just reading! LOL! Time for a nap!


  2. I am tired… you wore me out, inspiring but unrealistic for me… but love the jar idea, and am starting to train next week,wish me luck


  3. You are some relative with Wonder Woman ? 🙄


  4. restlessjo says:

    I gave up reading about halfway, when you went around the block again. Up till then I was with you all the way. Commend your energy. Good luck!


  5. orestgtd says:

    What a great read!

    Note to self. If I ever decide to make a jar of tasks to do every 30 minutes, make sure each task takes less than 30 minutes 🙂


  6. This is a great idea! I start my day with yoga, and I’ve decided to add swimming and weight lifting to it too (I made candy for people for Easter, which means I also ate a lot of candy in the week running up to Easter–and for Easter, lol).


    • I have loved doing the Jar so far. It’s always a surprise and I always love executing the different tasks. I especially like getting some of the fun ones occasionally. Let me know if you decide to do one. I’d be interested in your take on it.


      • I will definitely let you know, I’m trying to live healthier, and this sounds like a good way to ensure I actually do the exercise I intend too, lol! The road to obesity is paved with good intentions, after all.


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