I used to exercise. Throughout school, I was active in sports (all variations of baseball, at least one period of phys. ed. each term), and after I was finished with high school, I joined a gym. I continued, on and off, for years, until after I was married. And then, as if I were playing out some lame joke, I quit and let myself go. I mean, I didn’t gain a whole load of weight, but I got un-fit. Very, very un-fit. I despise the term, but it kind of sort of fits – I got skinny-fat. And like most women, I went through waves of acceptance, apathy, and self-loathing. One week, I liked the extra cushion; better for snuggling my babies. The next week, I couldn’t have cared any less about how I looked. And then the week after that, I was hating myself for not being the skinny, scrawny looking thing I had been when I was a teenager. Completely unrealistic and dumb, I know, but we all have moments of ridiculousness, I think. And believe me, I know I wasn’t overweight. I know that and always knew that. But you can be thin and still hate the way you look. Thin people get cellulite. Thin people have saggy bottoms. Thin people have muffin tops if they try to squeeze themselves into pants meant for 20 lbs lighter. The difference is thin people may have an easier time hiding what they perceive as flaws under baggy clothes or layers. We’re all the same, no matter what our size, and that holds true for our delicate self esteems.
I had reached one of those very low periods, right around Christmas (isn’t it funny how that timing works?). With gift cards I’d received, clothes I purchased were a size or two larger than the last time I’d shopped. Pants I’d gotten as gifts, in the size I’d asked for, were like sausage casings for my thighs. The number on the scale was higher than it had been since I had Avery. Again, I acknowledge that I am probably the only one on earth who had noticed the change, but it was there and I wasn’t happy about it. Not the number, I honestly don’t care how much I weigh, but the way that all culminated into how I felt and how I felt I looked. I don’t need everyone to think I look good, I don’t even need most people to think I look good, but it would be nice if I thought that of myself. And isn’t that the way we should go about this business? AH has always said he likes the way I look (although, he does think I dress like a man), so if he’s happy, shouldn’t I fix it so that I am, too?
The beginning of January marked when I decided to make a change, but the thing of it is, no matter how motivated I am, only certain things I was willing to change. I refuse to alter my diet too much. I eat good-sized portions, I bake with real butter and real sugar, I like giant bowls of boxed cereal in the morning and I need chocolate and ice cream and cheese and carbs in all forms in order to survive. I’m also pretty set in my ways as far as not doing much in the evenings. By the end of the day, I’m pretty much dead-to-the-world exhausted and I’ve got my stories to watch, so going to a gym or sweating to the oldies or going outside for a run wasn’t really going to happen, ever.
In summary, I wasn’t going to change my lifestyle. Like, at all. Solution? I found I had a whole lot of wasted bathroom time in the mornings and the evenings as I got ready for work and for bed. I mean, really. I just stand there, brushing my teeth, putting on my makeup, washing my face. I can multi-task; why not use all that standing time for exercise?
So I came up with my own routine. Wanna hear? I don’t know the actual name of most exercise-y things, so I’ll just say what I call them.
20 side leg lifts (each)
20 back leg lifts (each)
30 sumo squats
40 hip thrusts
50 tippy toe lifts
60 second plank
I do the pushups, plank, and hip thrusts as soon as I get out of the shower. This adds just a few extra minutes to my routine. I do the sumo squats as I apply makeup (in the morning) or wash my face (at night). I do the various leg lifts as I do my hair and brush my teeth. The whole thing takes about 20-25 minutes, which is pretty much the same amount of time I took getting ready anyway. Now I just multitask the whole thing and I kill about half a dozen birds with one stone.
I’ve been doing this routine twice a day for almost three months, again, with the sole purpose being to feel better about how my clothes fit. I’m not looking to lose weight because I know I realistically don’t need to. I simply and honestly just want to fit in the wardrobe I’ve spent months renovating. And you know what? It’s working. My stomach isn’t flat, but it’s getting there. My thighs are still flabby, but less than they were before. My butt is still fabulous (I’ve always liked my bum, even when it was cottage-cheesy), but it’s even more fabulous-er than it was. I couldn’t crush a pop can between my forearm and my bicep, but I’m working on it. I even, inadvertently, have lost about 5 lbs. It wasn’t the point, but I guess that’s what happens when you add even the smallest amount of healthy living into your otherwise dreadful lifestyle.
I’ve also started caring a little bit about what I ingest. I’m purposely drinking more water. I chose frozen yogurt over ice cream at the grocery store last week. When I serve myself a meal, I give myself enough to fill me, not twice that, force-feeding myself ALL OF THE FOOD STUFFS. I refuse to ever be hungry, and I’m not willing to give up the food that I most enjoy, but as a result of beginning to feel good about myself, physically, I almost accidentally began to care about the cause and not just the effect.
I read somewhere that, with exercise, it takes 4 weeks for you, 8 weeks for friends and family, and 12 weeks for everyone else to notice a change. There are no before and after photos. I don’t think my transformation is one that anyone would notice but myself and maybe AH. It’s just not dramatic. Like I said, I didn’t need to lose weight, so what I was in January and what I am now are two very similar looking bodies. I just like this one better. This one fits into the pants I got at Christmas. This one needs a belt to keep up the ones I bought with my gift cards.
I recognized that my issues were an easy fix, and so that’s what I did. Fixed it. I am fixing it. And I am beginning to see results.