Thursday, March 6, 2014

F is for Fitness: My 5-Year-Old Trainer

I’m struggling along with a workout video when my nearly 5-year-old boy enters the room. He stands there and watches me quietly for a few seconds before offering an oh-so-helpful observation:

“She’s in better shape than you.” 

“Thanks.” I say flatly. No freaking DUH, I think to myself. Thanks a lot.

“But if you keep working out, you’ll be better than her.” He smiles brightly. I feel like I’ve received a politely patronizing pat on the head.

Such a sweet and innocent remark. So naïvely optimistic…and so spot-on. Well, I’ll never be as fit as the gurus on the DVD with their steely abs and buns, but I was impressed by his grasp of persistence and hard work.

If only I felt so confident and positive. Hard work and persistence in exercise SUCKS. Hard work and persistence in dieting sucks even more. But it’s been two months since my surrogate pregnancy was over, and I have some serious body baggage to lose. I still can’t fit in my pants. Or any of my clothes for that matter. (Except yoga pants. Love them. Can I just live in them? I don’t think I’d pass for a fitness freak if I wore them in public though—all stretched out from sleeping in them and covered in dog hair.) I thought the weight would fall off after having the baby like it did with my other two pregnancies, but that was dumb. 

Those pregnancies didn’t involve two rounds of fat-inducing hormones. Those pregnancies were each followed by six months of nursing, which, incidentally can burn like 500 calories a day. I was working full-time through my pregnancies too, which kept me more active. Sooooo…this time I started at a much higher weight, and somehow felt more deserving of relaxation and indulgence, so I stuffed my face with all the things. All the carb-erific, sugary, fat things. 

I pumped breast milk for a few weeks after delivery but then I got mastitis and had to take antibiotics, which totally depleted my supply and took me promptly out of the dairy business. And let me tell you, mastitis is a bitch. Ow ow ow. I guess those dehumanizing machines aren’t quite as effective as babies when it comes to *product extraction* without getting clogged ducts. While I had planned on doing it longer, I am overall relieved to be done because it’s really time-consuming to go bovine every three hours, night and day. Disappointed about the deflation though…sure was nice to be more buxom than normal to balance out my more-generous-than-usual behind. (It’s nice to have big boobs when you’ve also developed a fat ass--for proportion’s sake. It's just wrong being flat-chested and overweight.)

So I need to shrink the rest of me back down too. I got a set of workout DVDs on Groupon that’s just 20 minutes a day, three times a week, and promises results in thirty days (The Firm Express: Thin in Thirty). Sounds easy peasy (never mind too good to be true), but when you’ve done zero actual exercise in a year and your muscles have atrophied and you just had baby #3 and your whole body is fluffy sludge it’s really f-ing hard. Couple that with being the most uncoordinated human alive and fun times will be had by all. 

Not to mention the hard lesson I’ve learned in calories. I had no idea how many calories were in things!!! Things that I thought were healthy, even. I obsessively entered everything I ate in the myfitnesspal app on my phone and it was horrifying. Especially if I tried to stay within the caloric limit suggested by the app. Counting calories, much like mastitis, is a bitch. I’m not a fan. Although I will say the app is pretty cool, with its nutrition totals and bar code scanning feature and all. 

Even my darling husband was using the app on his phone, having conveniently gone on a health kick of his own due to a slightly high blood pressure reading. He’s really been the driving force behind my healthy eating; watching him cram his lunchbox/cooler full of salad and fruit makes me reconsider that cookie binge. Then he randomly goes jogging and wants to join the gym and I’m like, who are you? And of-freaking-course he drops ten pounds the first week. While I'm super proud of his drive and progress, I'm also a tad resentful cuz...NO FAIR. In any case, it's nice to have someone to help keep me motivated. To his credit it’s just through his actions, not his words. (That's eggshell business there—husbands telling their wives to diet and exercise. Tread lightly. Or not at all.)

Meanwhile I’m flailing along with my exercise movies as my helpful little boy sympathetically asks if they're going too fast for me. Is it that obvious? The cost of having a shorter workout, in these videos anyway, is that she doesn’t explain any of the moves before she does them. It’s like a mean joke when she says “now that you have that”, and then keeps elaborating on the moves and making them faster, and I’m still falling over trying to figure out the first part. Is it possible that my swearing under my breath at the workout chick isn’t as under-my-breath as I think? I develop a personal loathing of these ladies—not just because of their trim bodies and their nice muscles, but because of their smug encouraging words which are clearly meant to taunt and belittle the fatties laboring after them, gasping for air and dripping sweat off their flushed red faces with ungainly stumbling hops as their judgmental children look on. Or is that just me? 

Even the dog seems to raise a critical eyebrow my way. Or maybe it’s just concerned sympathy. But the cat…well we all know that cats are jerks, blinking slowly and turning away in disgust. My husband is explicitly forbidden to watch. And then there’s my sweet kids and their blunt honesty. When I finally make it through the longest twenty minutes of my life, my little guy is there with an enthusiastic “Good job Mama!” Best personal trainer ever.

I’ll keep you updated on any results I see this month. I’ll just be thrilled to be able to wear my clothes again. It might also be nice not to be excruciatingly sore and weak after a bitty twenty minute workout.


  1. Sarah, you inspire me on so many levels. You're one of those perfect people I'd hate if I didn't like you so much. :D

    1. HA! and AAAWWW (but not in that order). Thanks so much. :) Wish we could hang out. I think we'd have tons of fun.

  2. I read diet advice that really worked for me, and I suspect it would work for you as well. Eat a pound of vegetables every day before you eat anything else, even breakfast. So in the morning I just stare at the fridge, think, "oh, fuck it," and go back to bed. Works like a charm.


    1. LOL. A POUND of vegetables? How is that even possible? Probably effective though!


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