June 28, 2013

Ridiculously Awesome

I know we haven't, but I like to imagine that we've all been at that same special point in our lives.

You know, the one where your old fat jeans became your regular jeans, and you didn't really mind because they were your fat jeans when you were 22 and you hade made two babies with your body since then...

And then your new fat jeans became your regular jeans, and that wasn't such a big deal, because you were kind of busy making another baby anyway, so you could deal with that.

...and then one day, your latest fat jeans are so tight that as you sit in the driver's seat you can feel the horrific sensation of your back fat being squeezed up behind your shoulder blades and smooshed into the seat.

We also all know that moment when
you realize that some days  "lunch"
is five twizzlers, a third of a  banana,
and twelve blueberries... right?
And then, you cry. Oh, how you cry. And you go out and get a new HIGH IMPACT SPORTS BRA OF DOOM and you relegate an hour every morning to getting yourself in shape.

But, it's easier said than done when you have three very very little people leaving half eaten bowls of goldfish crackers all over your house, and any attempt at a workout routine becomes "jump on mommy or howl in misery" time.

And then, you come up with the brilliant idea to DANCE!

So, you dance and dance and dance with your kids, hoping that this will magically whittle your waistline and you can give those fat jeans that made you cry the finger.

But it doesn't work so well, because while dancing with mommy starts out as being a good hour of cardio a day, it becomes mommy dead lifting thirty five pounds and then spinning in circles with a weight on her shoulder for half an hour, followed by another half hour of vaguely nauseated tottering to a beat.

Yes, we've all been there.

And so I began wondering, what do we do now? When we're still angry at our not-fat-day-but-regular-day jeans, when our workout routine has fizzled, and when we have just as little freedom to leave our homes and go to gyms or zumba classes as ever before?

That's right, folks, workout videos.

I began my hunt for the perfect workout video. It had to be dance based, to fool the kids. They would think we were still having dance parties, but we would just be having them with the movie.

I picked out the one I wanted. It was the P90X guy, so I figured it would work.

But I kept not buying it.

I kept going to the website, and hovering my cursor over the "checkout" button, and just not clicking, and I couldn't figure out why.

I asked M, "Do you think this is a good idea?" and he said, "I dunno... looks kind of sleazy..."

No. Just... no.
And that was it. He had hit the nail on the head. I couldn't bring myself to buy a video to watch with my kids with the goal being "sexiness," filled with testimonies of girls who finally felt "hot" in bikinis, with the never-ending rhetoric around looking like... well... the the people on the video.

I didn't want to send that message to my daughters. I didn't want to let them think that I was losing weight to look sexy, to look like somebody else's ideal. I didn't want them to think that there was a right way to look, and that was it.

Let's face it, they're my kids. They're going to have hips, and breasts, cuves everywhere. And if they're lucky and they've got some of Mike's shape to them as well, they'll also have AWESOME butts and maybe broad shoulders.

They certainly won't look like Jillian Michaels.

I wanted to lose some weight so I could feel good. So I could feel happy in my clothes, in my skin. So I could take a walk without feeling the telltale jiggle of having made three children in the lumps over my butt.

Gross, right? Exactly.

I wanted to feel good, and I know if I feel good about myself, I feel pretty much perfectly happy with the way I look. No matter what number is on the scale.

So, none of those "hot body" workout videos.

A few friends suggested specific dance workouts. Belly dancing, for example. I decided that we had to stick with something that my kids would recognize as dance- and keep in mind, they have learned from me that "dance" means "pseudo-rhythmic flailing, the occasionally hopping or kicking, and the intermittent jazz hands."

You know, this:

So no, it couldn't be African Dance for Beginners.

No, I needed a workout video that just kind of looked like dancing, with music that the kids could just distract themselves with and dance to without paying attention. Something with people who aren't all gussied up in greasepaint makeup and exposed, rock hard tummies. Something a little bit ridiculous.

And then... it hit me. Like a bolt of lightning. The perfect workout routine.

That's right... we're Sweatin' to the Oldies.

It took me ten seconds to find a GREAT deal on a box set of DVDs, and less than two days to have it in my hands. (Thanks, Amazon Prime!) But it took me more than a month of staring at it to put it on. Why?

Because it was utterly humiliating. I mean, Richard Simmons? REALLY? Could I look at myself in the mirror without shame? I mean, the man is the biggest running joke in... almost anything.

And then I told myself to suck it up and go sweat to some oldies with Richard Simmons, because if I just laughed through feeling ridiculous and dated and weird, then the kids would laugh too, and they would think that exercise was something fun and goofy that we all did together.

And really, that was the whole point.

And so, lovely readers, the kids and I have been doin' the pony with Richard Simmons for several weeks now.

And you know what?

It's kind of awesome.

First of all, the music is totally perfect. I mean, perfect.

Second of all, by the end of it the sweat is pouring off of me. Which feels pretty awesome.

I'm sore all the time. I also shower more regularly.

But the best part is, I have no choice but to keep going. Because now every morning begins with SI putting her nose in my face and saying, "Wake up, mommy! It's time for exercise!"

She doesn't care if I was up until after midnight watching roving hordes of Chicagoans take to the streets to celebrate winning the Stanley Cup.

She doesn't care if I was up until two in the morning reading all of "Bossypants" in one sitting and had idiotically started after she went to bed.

She doesn't care if I just ache all over and don't want to do it just this one morning please please please?

Photo from Nina Falcone
Best personal trainer ever. Instead of shouting at me that I'm fat and lazy and that I need to PUSH or
STRETCH or COMMIT- she just cries that she wants to do exercises with me. Please oh please oh please.

And so yeah, I drag myself out of bed, put on my HIGH IMPACT SPORTS BRA OF DOOM (of which there are now two), and do a million freakin' knee lifts.

And after about five minutes, the girls lose interest in exercising and instead sit on the couch, watch me, and quiz me on the weight lost by the rainbow of people, in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes, sweating along with Richard Simmons.

They squeal in delight whenever the fattest fat lady is standing next to him. "She has a plump tummy! She has a plump tummy!" they yell, and I say, "Yes! And she's exercising to be healthy!"

And they list all the people they know with plump tummies. The list always includes Poppa. "When we see Poppa in Greenbush, we will tell him he needs to exercise to make his tummy smaller!"

"Good idea! We can bring our movie, and you and me and Poppa can all exercise TOGETHER!"

"Yeah! And SI!" contributes DD.

"And SI," I huff through my unceasing kicks and the tune of "Mr. Personality."

Thanks, guy.
"And Grandmommy!" she adds again.

"Yeah," I wheeze out, remembering to breathe slowly despite my impulses to gasp for every particle of oxygen in the room, marveling at how hard it can be to balance on one foot with your arms straight out to the sides, despite being in motion.

DD always jumps in when it's "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To." SI always does the cool down. We always smile and laugh and they constantly show me "new exercises" they've invented. Usually, it's some sort of bridge.

The hour that we're exercising together flies by. Every morning.

But the best part, the absolute icing on the cake, is this...

We've recently acquired a teenager. She's staying with us for a chunk of the summer, a friend of a friend of sorts.

Anyway, she's started joining me in Sweatin' to the Oldies.

And that kid? She can't keep up.

Every day I am outclassing a fifteen year old in my workout routine.

And that feels more amazing than looking at my reflection and not being grossed out by it.

Lunch: cherries, toast with goat cheese and a fried egg,
and cucumber/cantaloupe/parsley juice. That's better.
I also pulled my old juicer out, and began replacing meals (or those seven hour windows where I skipped meals) with fresh juice. My go-to breakfast these days is a beet, three carrots, and two grapefruit. In liquid form. I cut out most of the sugar, carbs, and cow-dairy in my diet. I switched to almond milk and goat cheese, and spent a few weeks taking pictures of every single thing I ate, that shamed me into making way better choices, and the habit of looking at something and thinking, "Do I REALLY want a picture of me eating this?" made a pretty big difference.

That said, I still took the kids out to Kilwin's for ice cream cones yesterday, and totally had a scoop of toasted coconut in a waffle cone. The whole point is to enjoy life, right?

In less than a month, I've lost about ten pounds, and I feel great. I'm trying to lose another twenty (I keep upping my goal) before I move forward on a breast reduction. I am definitely looking to go down to something in the first half of the alphabet in the cup size.

And the kids know it's not about how I look. To them, I'll always look the same. Like mommy.

It's about how I feel.

And I feel pretty damn great.
"Hey everybody! Come see how good I look!"


  1. love this post because I can so relate to everything you wrote! Sounds like you've hit on a winner so keep it up and keep having FUN with it. As long as you're smiling and sweating, it won't be so tortuous and you'll be loving the results. Cheers!

  2. When you started talking about trying to find a workout video that wasn't all about being sexy, the first thing I thought about was Sweatin' to the Oldies. My brother and I did those with our mom when we were little and LOVED them. I think it's awesome you're doing it with your girls! :)

    Congrats on the weight loss, and good luck with continuing the healthier lifestyle. It's so hard to do, and I really admire the changes you've made!

  3. Great post! Congrats on your progress so far and keep it up!

  4. I LOVE This!! I've been on my own journey of late, though I haven't gotten myself to the exercise portion yet... I've often thought about it, but you're making me seriously consider adding in a fitness part of our morning in preschool, where I do the same thing with my preschoolers! You're daughters love it so much they keep you going, maybe they will do the same for me! =) Thanks for sharing!



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