Thirty days.

The life of a writer — this writer, anyway — can be a sedentary one.
While I get to flex those creative muscles on the regular, the journalist gig means a lot of sitting on my butt. In a cushy, springy chair. In front of my laptop. Looking at pictures of flowers instead of being among them, my soul slowly shriveling into nothingness as the fluorescent lights beat down on my sun-starved skin. And it will continue to be that way until I…get famous.

However. I lived in New York just two years ago — same basic job, darker office. Yet I was in the best shape of my life just from traipsing around Manhattan. It's impossible to get fat there, unless you work in construction, I guess. Even when I gorged myself on a Shake Shack double cheeseburger and black-and-white shake (ohdeargod) for lunch, the line snaked so far around Madison Square Park that I'd easily earned at least the bun by the time I hit the registers. My favorite panini place — roast turkey and brie with sprouts and mango chutney, thankyouverymuch — was an eight-block walk from the office, and two of my favorite stores were within a few blocks of that. Victoria's Secret at 19th and Fifth? Anthropologie at 16th? Hello, retail meal replacement! Window shopping and that lusty, I-need-that-skirt power walk through the Flatiron District were nearly all the cardio I needed. Plus, I had all those greasy Greek men to look forward to at my gym back in Queens…

And…then there's Chicago. Home of the Fat Kid.
I fully understand as I say this that I could look a lot worse, but I'm not where I used to be, and I'm not where I want to be. Fat and happy is a pretty good way to describe me anymore…minus the happy, sometimes.
My office is deep in the suburbs, and my commute's exhausting — even (especially?) on the days when I borrow the boyfriend's car and pay that 80 cents to fly down the Kennedy — so I get lazy before and after work. I'm already up and in the shower by 6 a.m., and I don't get home until 6 p.m. Why work out when I have a laptop (hi.) and the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from Netflix? And why cook a sensible meal? Because Villa May Pizza is so good. So is Bell's Oberon. And the Reese's brownie sundae from Rockwell's. And mac and cheese from the blue box.
I do walk a lot, especially compared to some people who live here, and when I'm really feeling ambitious, I'll shop for groceries with a little wire basket and carry it home on my bicycle. But it's not enough. Especially since this winter, I have been sedentary and sluggish. (Depression doesn't help either.)

Just as despondency began to set in – after nearly dying from a 5K because I did it cold turkey without running for weeks — the lovely Colleen of Chicago Yelp fame told me about something that could turn that all around: Zipcar's Low-Car Diet, sponsored by Berry Chill.
(Hi, marketing. No, they did not ask me to write this.)
The general idea: Give up your personal car for a month; try out "the Zipcar lifestyle" for a month; transform your life; save the Earth. Dig.
Of course, is that I don't actually own a car, but the Yelp seal of approval seemed to be enough to get me in. And I am committed to this. This afternoon's kickoff party, on a sunny, breezy rooftop in Wrigleyville, was a fond (possibly temporary) farewell to the Blue Box Blues and a bear hug of a hello to health and wellness. There was granola in our gift bags.
And tomorrow marks the first day of what promises to be an incredibly difficult month: Three workouts at Equinox a week, regular follow-up chats with nutritionist and dietitian David Grotto, five (5) Berry Chills a week — I don't even know how that will be POSSIBLE — and frequent blogs about the whole experience. Apparently I'm supposed to save a little room for breathing in there, too, but at this point it's just penciled in.
Finally, a personal challenge: No Starbucks for 30 days. If I don't die walking down a flight of stairs staring at my BlackBerry — there have been a few near misses — this just may kill me.

But I'm hoping it's all worth it.
I want, at the very least, to get back to the energy level and high activity I enjoyed when I was in New York: more walking, more working out, a better diet. This is just the kick in the ass I need, and it builds in a [corporate] support system and a very public way of keeping me honest.
And seriously. All the Berry Chill I can eat? A swanky place to sweat for a month? A car, gratis, at my disposal — for free — if I need one? An opportunity to document, in thrilling hyperdetail, my struggles in this blog?
On top of all that: The idea of a few more people knowing me within the swirling circles of Chicago's social media. Maybe even being recognized on the street. The slow, seductive creep toward fame, however small the steps.
How could I say no?