The Girl with the Golden Shoes

Over the summer, Jackson Spalding’s Wellness Team sponsored a firm-wide “Walk the Walk Challenge.” Through the months of June, July and August, JSers strapped on pedometers, set personal goals and logged steps in the hopes of leading their team to victory.  The five teams represented JS’s “Five Cs” – character, class, confidence, chemistry and competency – and by August 31, one team and one JSer would stand victorious. 
My Walk the Walk journey began with one small goal in mind: to lose a few pounds. My clothes were a bit snug, and I was determined not to buy a single item of clothing a size larger. After all, it seems that I am constantly buying clothes for my three young children — they are growing like weeds, I tell you.
Fast forward a few weeks into the challenge, and my clothes were fitting just right. Mission accomplished. Interestingly though, an unexpected thing happened. I found myself at the top of the leaderboard, and I have never been on the top of any leaderboard. A feeling emerged that I could not shake – the anxiety of being at the top, and with that came a new goal: keep my lead, widen the gap.
And so the intensity increased. I spent approximately two hours at the gym every night — even Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. If for some reason I was unable to get to the gym, I would walk the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods armed with plenty of homemade bug repellent. I consistently kept trudging along, not letting any excuse get in the way of myself.
All the while, I kept family and close friends updated on my progress. My brother, Gus, was especially invested in Walk the Walk. He has been trying to convince me to run with him in one of those crazy Spartan races. I have told him that before I would ever consider such a thing, I would have to begin some kind of regular workout regimen. After all, at my age, I could get injured just by the slightest of movements. Gus called me almost every day asking the same two questions. “Jen, how many steps do you have? How many steps between you and the next person?” Then he’d follow that with, “Don’t let up!” And so I didn’t.
About two months into the competition and about 180,000 steps ahead of the next person, my brother informed me that a special gift was coming for me in the mail. For days he went on and on about how it was the best gift he has ever gotten me. When I received it, my jaw dropped. It was sneakers; but not just sneakers, golden sneakers. And not just golden sneakers, personalized golden sneakers!
The personalization part needs explanation. See, I grew up with a family that has lots of silly traditions. And we also have lots of nicknames. In fact, we are rarely called by our real names, and if we are, you can bet that a serious conversation is sure to follow. So, rewind back to a long road trip in our VW Bug (the old school kind with that loud, unique engine sound) to visit grandparents in Long Island, New York. I was seven, and my brother was five. Back then, we did not have electronic forms of entertainment; there were no iPods or Walkmans. We had each other to keep it lively. We combated boredom with singing songs, making up games, and teasing each other, of course. On this occasion and out of the blue, Gus called me, “Sister Julio.” I quickly followed with, “Brother Heinz.” It made absolutely no sense, but we found it hilarious. Those names stuck, and as you can imagine, one shoe says, “Sista” (to account for my mom’s Brooklyn accent) and the other says, “Julio.” They’re awesome, and yes, they are the best gift my brother has ever gotten me.
Next March, Gus may get his wish to have me run the Spartan Sprint with him. Good news is that if I do wind up getting injured, I will have immediate access to help. After all, my brother is an orthopedic surgeon.
Lastly, I must mention that my Walk the Walk win could not have happened without the support from my husband, Ricardo. Every evening as he arrived home from work, he took the reins of responsibility out of my hands. He would complete the entire nighttime routine of cleaning dishes, bathing, sending to bed and making lunches for our children. Several less things for me to worry about – and I could surely use less things to worry about. I am truly fortunate to have a good guy by my side.