Facing Reality

Recently, we have been meeting and chatting with life insurance companies so we can both secure a future for our kids and the surviving spouse should something unfortunate happen to either of us. We are both in general good health as far as I know.

However, I have been a lot overweight since having my kids 3.5 years ago. While I continued to work out rather vigorously all the way up to the 24th week of my first pregnancy, since then, I have slacked off, big time. Once a regular at the gyms in cities where I lived, a favorite of instructors where I took regular cardio/abs, yoga, and pilates classes, I am but a very sorry form of my former self.

Once, driven by my desire to lose all the extra weight I had gained since I started my doctoral program, I embarked on my own self-directed gym program and lost 11 pounds in 3 months. It was winter in snowy West Lafayette but that did not deter me. I would take the campus bus and get driven to the Purdue gym, workout for 1.5 hours, of which the first hour was pure cardio followed by 30 minutes of weight training (all self-directed, again) and return home, sometimes with the same driver who having circled around the campus a few times was now en route to my way home. I was so proud of myself that Winter. That year was 2008. 9 Years Ago. I was NINE years younger. My metabolism was still in its 20s.

When I stepped into my local gym a week ago, Wednesday, I knew I wanted a change. Worn out by the daily grind of a SAHM, further aggravated by all the extra pounds of pregnancy weight I still carry, and the stressors of a non-paying job, I realized that if I keep this pace up, I won’t live very long to see my kids grow up. I may not be morbidly obese but I was at a place where I was beginning to see those “before” (as in, current pictures that would show up as ‘before’ pictures somewhere) pictures of myself I hated…where the smile on my face in pictures with my kids might as well be non-existent when I could also see the flab in my lower abs area or the size of my enormous arms. I was losing out on creating precious photographic memories with my kids because I didn’t look good enough in those images.

When my daughter turned 6-months, I started walking/jogging but that only lasted as far as a 5K in October. I wrote about my jogging frame of mind and music list here in case you want to see what I was up to a year ago.

On September 20th, right around the time my daughter turned 1.5 years old, I took myself to the closest gym and signed up for a membership. I also added a daycare benefit for an additional $10/month so I could go to the gym with Teju and drop her off there while I worked out. I wasn’t so sure of this “daycare” plan but figured I had to do something or else I would never be able to work out. While going to the gym after putting the kids to bed and early in the morning before they wake up are all options, I honestly don’t have the energy to do either of those things anymore.

Due to the work associated with theParentVoice, I regularly go to bed at midnight. I wake up anywhere between 5:00 – 6:30 a.m. depending on which one of the kids is up and why. Add to that a full day of things to do, both physically and mentally, with very little down time, I am left with zero motivation. The best times for me are the mornings of the days TJ goes to preschool.

So, I did it!

All of last week, I worked out, starting slowly at first and ending the work-week with a power packed cardio blast. On Monday and Wednesday, I took a yoga class while Teju hung out at the gym’s daycare. On Friday, I took an all-body cardio/strength-training class.

Fitness Assessment

Prior to that, on Sunday, I did a fitness assessment with one of the gym’s personal trainers. If I thought I was out of shape prior to this assessment, I now knew for sure, with evidence, that I was not “just” out of shape, I was abysmally so. I carried this sentiment and its reality with me all week.

At different points during the fitness assessment, I kept telling the trainer how I could do this or that so much better back in the day when I was a gym regular. I just felt sorry for myself. I really sucked at all the lunges and leg lifts. My body was no longer bending to my will or contorting to attention. My balance was also off (although I did excellent at the tree pose during yoga) and doing the alphabets with leg lifts pretty much stretched my muscle pain tolerance to its max.

I had similar experiences during my yoga classes during yoga on Monday. Every muscle in my body needed to be reminded of its previously stellar capabilities. In the past, I used to be one of the most flexible people in my yoga classes and I would look at others, my age and older, and feel good about myself. I would always thank my early training in Karate for that level of flexibility. Sadly, that no longer holds true. On Monday, and again on Wednesday, I was reminded again just how out of touch I had gotten with my own body. While I could still bend down and touch my toes with my fingers, I no longer had the abdominal strength to support a plank or hold my arms out wide too long for a warrior pose…and to think, these were poses I could do with great finesse and form.

During the cardio-strength-training class on Friday, I was further (re)introduced to my lack of strength. You’d think carrying kids had made my core and upper body stronger. Not quite so, after all, I am not doing repetitions while carrying my kids. Doing squats or lunges holding 5 lbs. dumbbells was a fail. I held on for as long as I could but eventually gave up. Four years ago, prior to either of the pregnancies, I did the same exercises with 15 lbs. dumbbells. If I wasn’t as strong a person as I am, I would have cried at my sorry state. I wished I had brought my 3 lbs weights from home but whom am I kidding, I may not even have been able to go on for too long with those weights.

Whereas previously I was able to touch my forehead, nose, and chin to the floor while stretching my legs to the sides, sitting down, this time, my head was at least 10 inches from the floor…no contact between my face and the floor whatsoever.

All of the above to say, 4 years of not going to a gym, 2 kids, and 25 pounds heavier than my comfortable plateau-weight is enough of a motivation to do something. The personal trainer even asked why I was joining the gym at this time – if it was for an event or a goal or something of the nature…I didn’t have any such fancy answer. I have no high school reunions planned or weddings to attend or friends to impress or boyfriends to keep and even if I did have all of those coming up, thankfully, I am not vain enough to have my sense of self rest solely on my weight. I am driven by my inner sense of self, my inner determination to want to get back to a weight with which I am comfortable.

More important than wanting to fit into my clothes better or look good for my husband or impress someone else, I want to do this for myself. I want to do this because I need to do this. Again, for myself. It’s not about gaining more confidence through weight loss. It’s not about vanity. It’s not about my ego. I want to do this because I need to be at a weight where I don’t scare myself off every time I dare step on the scale. I want to do this because I want to live a healthy life so that, unforeseen incidents aside, I can live long enough to see my kids grow up and achieve their life goals. I want to do this because I want my kids to understand and appreciate the value of good health, good nutrition, and mindful weight management.



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A former Communication Studies professor turned a somewhat reluctant stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), I blog about my adventures raising two multiracial kids. I write about parenting and living a multicultural Indian-Canadian-American HinJew life with honesty, a few tears, lots of laughter, and gallons of coffee.
Blogger at: www.thephdmama.com
Follow me: @thephdmama

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