Let me start off by saying that I realize I am not morbidly obese. Some girls would starve themselves before they let their gut look like mine but others are probably calling me “that skinny bitch” (sorry mom, language, I know). This is not a post about how our bodies compare with each other or “the norm”. It’s more about those times when we get unhappy with the way we look and the difficulties of doing anything about it. Just wanted to clear that up.
I left a super stressful (unnecessarily so, but that’s a post for another day…if I ever get the guts to hit Publish) job about eight months ago. Apparently, the high-anxiety environment was keeping my weight stable, unbeknownst to me. I was basically eating whatever fast food Team Lunch chose that day, not working out (because the work-load, y’all) but amazingly holding steady at about 5 pounds heavier than I’d prefer. In my opinion, five pounds is no where close to being enough to start cutting out any of the good stuff so I just accepted the extra layer of softness and rocked on.
However, fast forward to the present where my job is pretty laid back and I’m in a good spot and BAM! That’s some sneaky weight, right there. About a pound per month (I’m 5’7″ so this isn’t QUITE as drastic as it sounds but definitely not a sustainable trend…). I knew my clothes were fitting tighter (not in a “hugging the curves” but more of a “squeezing the gut” type of tighter mind you) and I noticed my arms looking more and more Mom Arm-like (you know, kind of thick, no definition), but it wasn’t until a few weekends ago that I started getting into a funk about it. We’ve all been there. It can come out of seemingly no where and it doesn’t matter that most people wouldn’t be able to notice any changes in your body. You see them and you don’t like them and that’s enough to send you into a “I look gross” pity-party.
However, in our house body image pity-parties are not allowed. We’ve gone on enough diets and attempted enough workout plans throughout the years that we know how to eat and we know how to workout. If we’re not happy with the way we look at any given point, we’ve got the knowledge to fix it. It’s a tough love-type strategy. “I’m getting so nasty” is usually followed by a “No you’re not but that Mtn. Dew isn’t making you any smaller.”
So my funk was quickly followed by a desire to put together a plan to halt the gains. My problem is, when it comes to getting in shape, I’m pretty hit or miss. I’ve been known to spend days putting together a game plan, only to find that I’ve lost any desire to exercise somewhere during the planning phase. I kid you not, I’ve actually bulked up for a before picture bc I wanted the after pic to be more significant. I have POSTPONED starting to eat right because I didn’t have time to take a before picture. And let’s be real, there were never any after pics or results bc…life and all.
So what’s the problem? What prevents me from doing all this exercise I see facebook friends posting about daily and eating healthy, home-cooked meals? Personally, if it doesn’t seamlessly work into my life, it’s probably not going to happen because maintaining my sanity trumps obtaining a certain level of fitness any day.
When I first started my old job, it had an in-house gym. My youngest was a little over a year old and I was still in that “get rid of the baby weight” stage of life. I’d use the gym during my lunch breaks and slam a protein shake once I cooled off. Between working out, being crazy busy at the office, and coming home to a house full of littles, I dropped a good bit of weight and saw probably the best muscle definition I’d had since being athletic in high school. It just happened to work seamlessly into life at the time and was therefore doable for me. It’s not the exercise as much as what I have to give up to DO the exercise that gets me (side note: I eventually made friends at work and we started eating out every.single.day and goodbye quads.) I refuse to let those few months of muscle be my last hoorah.
I’ve tried Crossfit thinking maybe the accountability would help. And honestly I think it probably would have except MAN that stuff is hard. And since you’re working out with people at all different fitness levels, it’s pretty obvious who the most out of shape one is (thaaaat would be me). It was pretty discouraging to be gasping for air while finishing dead last (with everyone watching and cheering you on I might add – umm…no m’am). Add to that the fact that the women who were straight up killing it were a little more muscle than I really wanted to be (I’ve gotta big frame to start with, y’all) and I quickly decided it wasn’t my best choice.
They say there are no valid excuses when it comes to not getting in shape, but that’s a bunch of bull in my opinion. I have PLENTY of extremely valid reasons why I struggle to exercise regularly and eat healthy, some of which include:
1 – Cost
We tried a group personal trainer for a while, and although the monthly rate was much better than what you’d pay for an individual personal trainer, I can think of a lot of other things I’d rather do with $225 a month than exercise…am I right?! Crossfit was no drop in the bucket either. And then there’s just a gym membership itself. That’s totally doable for most people. But my current excuse? There are plenty of things that I can do at home for free so until I show myself I’m committed enough to do the free stuff, I’m not allowed to pay for anything. (That sounds like a stretch of an excuse even to me, but hey, it’s where I’m at.)
2 – Time
“Oh you work a full-time job and come home to three kiddos? You’ve got plenty of time you just haven’t found yet! What about in the morning before they wake up” (What is this Before They Wake Up you mention? Who do you think wakes ME up?!). “Oh your husband has to be at work early? Surely you can go run a few miles or hit the gym and be back before he has to leave” (I’m sorry but I have no desire to drive to the gym and back in THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT). “Ball practice is a perfect opportunity to get in some laps while the kids are busy” (oh I’m sorry, I think you were under the impression that they’d all three be doing the same sport, at the same time, at the same ball park…). I could continue but you get my gist.
3 – Asthma
This is a newer issue for me. After my first child was born, I developed what I thought was just a really bad cold. I literally had to sleep curled up on my knees to be able to breath at night. I couldn’t even get enough air to sing the baby to sleep without pausing for breath. When I finally went to the doctor to see what the issue was he referred me to an allergist who did some testing and it turns out that I’m allergic to a whole mess of junk now. (Apparently allergies can develop later in life, y’all. Who knew?!) So now I’m equipped with an inhaler to use when needed (which I avoid probably bc of the stigma from movies growing up that made fun of the chunky asthmatic kid (talk about stuff that should never have been acceptable!)) and I’m supposed to take a daily Zyrtec (which I don’t because I have a weird thing about potentially building a dependence on medicine in general – I realize I’m a head case). I’ve pretty much just adapted to taking shallower breaths. EXCEPT when it comes to exercising…Haven’t quite figured out how to adapt to less lung capacity there just yet. It’s pretty scary to not know if you’re struggle-bussin’ through a workout because you’re out of shape and need to suck it up and push through, or if your airways are literally closing up and you’re fixing to be in bad shape. Any adult asthma sufferers out there? Any advice?
4 – Mama guilt
This one kind of goes along with the first two above. It’s never far from my mind that any money I spend on myself is money that I could be investing in the kids. It’s an extra trip to the beach or a fun camp or a trip to Six Flags. Same with my time. If I scrounge up an extra hour or two a day, I could be spending it with the littles. I totally get the whole concept about how it’s important to invest in you so that you have more to give to them, etc. etc., but knowing that doesn’t magically take away the mama guilt, no matter how irrational its foundation. It’s just something some of us deal with.
5 – Want to
So here’s the kicker. This is the one that keeps me from having that six pack (yeah right) more than any of the others combined. When it really comes down to it….I just don’t care. If I was forced to choose between being in shape or sitting at the house, I can tell you in a heartbeat I’d choose the latter. I love to read. It’s my unwind hobby. I love to eat. I specifically love to eat french fries and yeast rolls (not together, but I wouldn’t turn them down). My morning routine includes grabbing a Mtn. Dew from the fridge on my way out the door. Every day. Habitually. Food before fitness! If you told me that the only way to lose weight was to stop eating and drinking the foods I liked and to spend that unwind time, not curled up in a robe in my reading chair with a good book, but outside running in the Alabama heat and humidity while trying to suck in the dunlap every time a neighbor drove by and also trying to keep my feet from slapping the pavement like an elephant that’s about to collapse, I would laugh at you and let you know real quick that me and these extra pounds are gonna get along just fine.
I won’t ever have a perfect body. I’m well aware of that. In fact, the more weight I lose, the worse I look (kind of manly with no curves and a strong jaw). All the stretched out skin and split abdominal wall from having three babies? Yeah, pretty sure that’s here to stay no matter what I do. Once the fat starts burning off, the belly just starts looking a little Tales from the Crypt-ish. And let’s not even discuss the ladies….They’re a sad state of affairs (but they’re MY sad state of affairs and right now that’s more important to me than the alternative so whatevs).
One piece swimsuits and miracle bras aside, when the body-image funk hits I’ve found that the best way to get through it is to take action, no matter how small. I downloaded a couch to 5k app (again…maybe this time I’ll make it past week 3), bought me some new shoes (only because I realized mine were TEN YEARS OLD and could be a contributing factor in my hatred of running), and am trying hard to remember to drink a little water everyday. And you know what? If I don’t feel like exercising today, that’s ok. If I decide to eat fried chicken and french fries dipped in ranch instead of drinking a protein shake, I’m gonna enjoy every bit of it. But whenever I get those teeny-tiny little inclinations towards drinking a bottle of water or throwing on the new shoes and attempting to get past another day of C25K, I’m gonna jump on it. Even if they only come around once a week, it’s once a week more than what I was doing before.
So muscles or Mtn. Dew? I’m gonna shoot for both. One hot miserable inconsistent workout at a time.
We shall see…
Until next time,