Saturday, 3 September 2011

Body Mass And Shame

I WANT to be fit. I want to be one of those moms walking down the street with my gaggle of offspring and have people gasp and say "They must be adopted! Look at her hips!" I want to sigh to my friends about how I just CAN'T find clothes that fit me unless I shop in the girls' section. I want people to confuse me with my daughter. I want to be able to walk past a brownie without sucking it into the gravity well that is me....

That's the thing about having kids- I lost all the weight from being pregnant with Isaiah within 6 weeks of his birth. (Not being able to afford food probably helped.) I lost all the weight after Liz (except about 10 pounds I had gained in BETWEEN kids) within about 6 months. With Squid and Eva both, I had gestational diabetes, and although I LOST weight during pregnancies due to the diabetic diets I was on with both of them, I was so excited to eat carbs again after they were born that I picked up another 30-odd pounds over the course of their baby years.

This means I am no longer the skinny size 2 I was in high school. Basically, I've eaten a whole other small person. I have reached a poundage that I USED to think was only attainable by professional wrestlers and marine mammals. (Lest you take me seriously and have a mental image of someone who wears bedsheets and needs a wall knocked down to get out to the emergency room, please understand that although I make fun, I don't need to worry about the weight limit on a busy elevator. I'm just saying I don't feel super comfortable in leather anymore.)

Anyway, every few years, I feel motivated and decide to do something about it. It drives Jason crazy when I do this. Although there are some things he doesn't mind, like the fact that I try to avoid packaged foods, use plain yogurt instead of full fat sour cream, and how we don't fry grilled cheese sandwiches (they always get done in the toaster oven so you don't need butter), he hates the gym membership merry go round.

You know how it works. You realize you need to do something about your shape, so you pop into a gym (World Health Club, Heaven's, and Curves are a few of my failures), commit to the monthly fee, and start off the next week full of energy and optimism. You KNOW you're only a few workout sessions away from the body you've always wanted to have.

You do a few workouts, and relish the feeling of slight stiffness in your muscles when you wake up the following morning. You remember how ENERGIZED you feel after a workout. You start window shopping (not REAL shopping- it's too soon) for 2 piece bathing suits again. You talk slightly condescendingly to people who DON'T have gym memberships about how much better they'd feel about themselves if they got some exercise. You start to feel a kinship with people like Jane Fonda and Lance Armstrong.

And then reality sets in. It takes so much TIME! You can't go to the gym early in the mornings, cause what if there's traffic, and you can't get back home before your husband leaves for work? You can't go during the day, because who wants to pay for babysitting on top of your membership fees? You can't go at night, because what kind of mother chooses a workout over spending quality time with her children? You want to wait till after the kids are in bed, but then you don't have time for a shower before bed or you'll wake up exhausted. Your visits to the gym start to happen fewer and farther between. You start making up reasons not to drive past the mall that it's in. You avoid using any words beginning with 'g' around your husband, lest he ask about your next visit. Mid-August, you hide your gym bag under the Christmas decorations. You realize that these are not the actions of a woman who really wants to go back. And you quietly finish making the next year or 2 of payments, and vow never to buy another gym membership.

Till next time.

In one incarnation as a fitness failure, I bought a membership at World Health Club. I really committed for a few months. I went to the gym every other day, with an almost religious fervour. I bought workout clothes and USED them. I meant it this time! And, predictably, I got tired of it. The problem was, we lived less than 2 blocks from World Health Club. I started to get paranoid. What were they thinking? What were they saying? Were they having staff meetings where they all discussed the fat kid, and agonized over how to bring her back into the fold? Were they watching the doors, anxiously awaiting my return? They must be so disappointed in me. I was.

I stopped walking to the dry cleaner's, in case one of the trainers saw me through the reflective front windows of the gym. I started parking directly in front of the liquor store when I bought wine, so that I could scope out the parking lot, and when it was clear, dash from one door to the other without being seen. I quit buying gas at the Petro Can next door.I started letting the kids run into 7-11 themselves to get a slurpee while I stayed in the car. Everywhere I looked, I saw phantom World Health Club Trainers. I was on the verge of becoming a shut in.

And then one day, as the kids and I were grocery shopping at Safeway (not even the Safeway across the street, dammit, the OTHER Safeway), I finally ran into an ACTUAL World Health Club trainer.

"Heather! " she screeched (in an emaciated tone of voice), "How ARE you? Where have you BEEN? I haven't seen you in AGES!!!!"

And every lesson I have ever taught the kids about honesty, integrity, and taking responsibility for your actions went flying right out the window. Right in front of the very people to whom I am supposed to be modeling dignity and trustworthiness, I gave a performance worthy of a politician with a gambling problem.

"Oh!" I trilled, "It's so good to see you again! We actually just got back from taking the kids on an extended trip to Europe."

"You should have told us!" she exclaimed, "We could have put a hold on your membership until you returned!"

"Oh, it was such a surprise," I said, "We were only going to be gone a month, but the kids were being exposed to so much culture, and were having such a great learning experience that we decided to stay for 6 months."

"Wow," she said, "what an awesome opportunity! I would have loved to have a trip like that as a kid! You guys," (turning to my kids, who were teary-eyed and shaking with restrained screams of laughter) "have amazing parents. You'll remember that for the rest of your life!" (Yes. Unfortunately, yes. They will.)

As we finished our conversation and turned and walked away, I looked at the kids and their unbridled glee at my acute discomfort. I realized what I had to do. I hated it, but I had no choice. I had to save SOME little scrap of dignity.

We moved.


  1. Dying laughing. Like pee my pants.
    Is it too soon to say 'I love you'?

  2. My pants are dry, but I love your work.
    And yes, I love you too.

    1. So I just finished reading Jessica's blog about her mean stalker and her desire for the man to have an unpleasant doctor's visit, and have realized you are one and the same. Originally, I was going to thank you for your kind words, Youvebeenhooked, but now I truly appreciate them. So THANK YOU FOR YOUR KIND WORDS!!!!!!!! ;)

  3. You crack me up!! You brighten my day with your excellent sense of humour.