Fitbit Motivation

Published Saturday, November 21st, 2015

Fitbit motivation

Like most women, I need motivation when it comes to staying active.  People tend to think that if you’re a mother, you’re chasing after children constantly. While this may be true in a house overrun with toddlers and preschoolers, it’s not true if your children are older than 5.  It’s also not true if you’re biologically geared to sit on your ass and read, or watch a show, rather than workout.  I had never considered myself athletic.  I am perfectly content to read a book cover to cover, or be online 24/7, sipping coffee or tea and munching on crackers or cookies. It is simply difficult for me to get up off my derriere, let alone muster the willpower to go burn off calories in a structured manner with intent.  I have also trained my children to fetch me things and to stay close by so there is no need for me to chase any of them.

My spouse and friends are much the same as I am.  We have ourselves a very nice time being sedentary… thank you very much.  The only accountability I have is that which I have placed upon myself, and let’s be honest here: I am the queen of excuses.  Factoring in all the above, is it any wonder I have a hard time maintaining my weight, let alone losing any excess baggage?  Hence, the need for motivation.

I am the largest woman where I work.  I am the tallest, and the most thick.  While I am no longer as pudgy as I used to be, I have some work to do on my figure.  I know its supposed to be unhealthy to compare yourself to others, but where I work all the women are very fit and thin — except for me.  I come in like the burly, corn-fed fertile mid-westerner of European descent that I am, and I feel as if I am a hippo among gazelles.  Ergo, a factor in my motivation.

I am employed in a doctors office as an x-ray tech and a medical assistant.  That’s a catch-all term for the fact I do nearly everything except actually treat patients.  The emphasis and atmosphere in this particular clinic is one of wellness, nutrition, and general health.  I want to embody this message and do my job well.  I can do my job very well, but when I run into a patient at Wendy’s across the street during lunch, it’s only my guilt and shame of being caught that forces me to order a salad.  I need accountability.  I need motivation.  I need reinforcement, encouragement, and validation.  I need clearly defined goals, and I need reminders to reach these goals.  Without these things I simply slip back into my lackadaisical ways.

When I saw my coworker wearing a band around her bony wrist, I inquired about it.  She told me she had purchased a Fitbit.  I’m not completely naive, and I had heard of this fad.  She explained that it’s a glorified pedometer (step counter).

“You have to have 10,000 steps each day to stay healthy and not gain weight,” she chirped at me. “This keeps track of my steps throughout the day.”

You can buy a pedometer for $5 at Walmart, and I’ve never laid myself down to sleep at the end of the day wondering how many steps I had taken.  I asked if it did anything else.

“Well, when you wear it at night it keeps track of your sleep so you can know how much sleep you’re getting.”

This part interested me.  So, I found that Target had them on sale and picked one up.  The Fitbit itself is a tiny computer hardly bigger than my fingertip, which gets wedged into a rubber wristband.  I don’t normally wear anything around my wrists, so getting used to its presence was a minor adjustment.  I downloaded the app onto my phone and my computer.  I saw that it has opportunities to log my food and water intake, but I loathe documentation of this type, so I didn’t use this feature.  I was satisfied that it would log my steps to let me know how active I was, and record the quality of my sleep.

Fitbit motivation band

In the first week I wore this Fitbit, I found that it did in fact motivate me to keep moving.  I’d like to pause here for emphasis — that factor alone was surprising and impressive.  I walked extra laps around the office and took longer routes throughout my day.  At home I made a point to go up and down the stairs instead of asking the kids to fetch me something.  I walked to get the mail.  I wore it running.  It was a point of accomplishment and pride when I was rewarded for attaining my goal for the day.  Even the wrist band celebrated with me, vibrating and then illuminating all five of its lights to congratulate me.

I wasn’t always so smitten with the thing. One weekend I dug up my vegetable garden; a lot of lifting, moving of dirt and supplies.  I tilled the garden by hand, not using a tiller, just a shovel and my own two hands — back breaking labor!  Having completed the job, after wiping off the dirt and sweat, I checked Fitbit to see its documentation of my hard work.  In the four hours that I had worked this garden, I had only taken 244 steps — a paltry sum.  I was not impressed.  I was sweating, sore, and dealing with erupted blisters on my palms.  I had “wasted” four hours and accomplished nothing, according to Fitbit.  This put me in a foul mood, lowered my expectations, and upon reading this unfair update I took off the band and placed it on its charger, debating whether or not I should use it at all.

As with most things that cause me disquiet, I posted about this injustice on Facebook.  Someone then commented that if I wanted to track my activity levels more accurately, I would need the more expensive model Fitbits that can count heart rate.  With a better understanding of how Fitbit calculated my activity level (basically just steps divided by time), I was more conscious concerning its usage, often directing or limiting my activities to what I knew the Fitbit would credit me for.  Less lifting or core work; more running and walking.

As luck would have it, I ended up losing the Fitbit within only two months of having bought it.  I was working a weekend job that was very physical, and consisted of my carrying and assembling photography equipment which rubbed against my arms, right where my Fitbit rested.  In an effort to be cautious and prevent damage to the Fitbit, I attached it to my shoe laces.  I didn’t want to miss out on getting credit for my steps!  Suffice it to say, the Fitbit had become dislodged from the band at some point, and I was unable to locate it again, despite furious and frantic searching.

Since losing my Fitbit 6 weeks ago my activity level has decreased markedly, and my figure has responded.  In the two months that I had the Fitbit I lost 8 lbs off my frame.  I’ve gained back those 8 lbs in just a few weeks without my Fitbit.  Its a credit to Fitbit that this small device has the ability to alter behavior so markedly.

It is now my goal to save up for the Fitbit Charge model which has the heart rate monitor as well as being a pedometer.  I loved using the Fitbit.  I loved the ease of its use, the implied accountability, the validation of my efforts, and the way Fitbit motivation keeps me active.

And when it comes to being active, I need all the motivation that I can get.

Almost got my fitbit steps meme mommy perfect

Jessica Fletcher is a guest writer for Mommy Perfect.

(This NOT a paid advertisement.  I am not paid by Fitbit, or anybody else,  to promote this product.  I simply like it and think my readers will too.  Disclaimer: this article may contain affiliate links.)

Menstrual Cup Madness

Published Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
Menstrual Cup Madness
(Image source: Cesar Cabrera Photography)

By Jessica Fletcher

I remember the day I got my first period.  I was on the cusp of turning 14, and fortunately I was at home, in the bathroom, getting ready to go to bed.  I had finished taking a shower, brushing my teeth, when suddenly I apparently and abruptly lost control of my bladder.  I felt the warm trickle of telltale moisture make its way dow-… oh, no!  I heard about this shit.  It had already happened to most of my friends and I was hoping to be one of the lucky ones who wouldn’t catch it until I was much older.  Like 15.  No such luck.  It was here, and it was hitting me hard.  Also luckily for me, I had two older sisters who’d already been through this and I knew what they used.  I rummaged under the sink for that box of cumbersome pads.  I removed one from its neon green, crunchy plastic wrapper and applied it to the inside of my granny panties — the only acceptable type of underwear allowed by my mother for my sisters and myself.  I told my mom what happened and she just laughed.  She has a good sense of humor, and having gone through this with two daughters already, she didn’t make it seem like a big deal.  She refused to buy me tampons and said I’d have to wait to use those until I’m older because those kill people if you forget about them, and they also might turn you into a slut.  I was shocked that anyone could forget a wad of painful dry cotton up there.

When I turned 16 and being in enough activities, like track and cheerleading, I decided to try a more discreet way of enduring this curse and invested in my first box of tampons — sluttiness be damned.  I bought the smallest size possible.  The upside was that these did not hurt nearly as much to use.  The down side was that I leaked like a sieve and had to use a huge bulky pad anyway, as back up.  There wasn’t that much time between classes, and basketball games were hours long and sometimes we had to travel a long way for them.  I needed something bigger.  Something that could handle all the intensity that was my womanhood.  I finally worked up enough courage to use regular sized tampons with a medium pad.  This seemed to be the best solution.  At least, the medium sized pad didn’t create the illusion of carrying a torpedo sized turd in my undercarriage, and the regular sized tampon allowed me a few more hours of freedom.

Of course, I had long harbored unfavorable opinions about the usage of these pads and tampons.  However, I dealt with them because it was all part of being female, right?  First of all, I didn’t understand the need for the gaudy colors.  No excitement there.  I knew what I was opening up, and it wasn’t a package of happiness, for crying out loud.  And also, could the wrappers be any louder?  Try opening one of those in the high school bathrooms without announcing to the world that you’re on your period.  The crackling positively reverberated off the cement floors and tile walls.  Who needs acoustics like that… in a bathroom?   It’s like discretely opening a bag of Doritos in a movie theater.

Fast forward to when I had my first child, and was traumatically introduced to a period from the seventh layer of hell.  The period that stayed with me for weeks.  The clots, the cramping, the endless leakage.  The special underwear from the hospital that I stole extras of.  How I mourned those when I had used up the last of them.  I continued to steal chux pads from the clinic for my follow up appointments.  Four months later, I finally stopped bleeding so heavily.  I down graded from hospital issued postpartum pads, to a store-brand overnight pad for usage during the day, and nothing but super-plus absorbent tampons from here on out.  I didn’t think my periods were anything to be concerned about.  They came every 21 days, and lasted for 7-9 days.  I could set a clock by them.  Now I wished I would have changed the way I ate and started exercising regularly years ago.  A lot of how your flow behaves relies on hormones.  Hormones influenced by your activity level and what you’re eating.  If you’re eating fast food constantly and binge-watching anything, you might have a lot more cramping and discomfort associated with the monthly treat.  In the last few years that I made my lifestyle changes, and especially since I had my tubal ligation, my periods have become more sporadic and lighter overall.

I thought I was now in the clear and eagerly awaiting the next change.  Or the removal of my uterus.  I wasn’t picky. Then one day, one of my friends told me she was going to try something called a menstrual cup.  I nearly gagged.  Much like how a man might gag if he reads this post…unless he’s a gynecologist or something.  Anyway, I digress.  My friend Phyllis tried this thing called a Diva Cup (menstrual cup) and she instantly loved it.  After listening to her gush (pun intended) about this curious object, I decided to look into myself.Diva Cup

The cup itself is made of silicone, and it appears to be rather larger than
necessary.  How was I going to get it in THERE?  How was it going to stay?  How do I clean it out if I don’t have access to a sink to cleanse it of its sin immediately?  How much can it hold until it leaks?  Does it leak?  Can I wear it while I’m exercising?  Can I wear it while I’m sleeping?  The answers were mostly provided on Diva Cup’s website, in the package inserts, and via other users.  The cup folds in on itself, and is inserted just like a tampon.  It unfolds on its own while it’s inside you, and is held in place by the muscles.  I would say this particular device is most easily adapted to if you’ve had children, or if you’ve used a contraceptive that you’ve had to apply to your cervix before.  Since I’ve had a history of both, I have a good relationship with my lady parts, and strategic placement of this cup is usually uneventful and quite simple.  Placement is key with this cup.  If you happen to insert it too high, you get the Exxon Valdez.  If you place it too low, you get the British Petroleum incident.  Read: Huge leaks like you’ve decided to pull a period-shaming protest during a marathon.  Did you hear about that?  That’s the lady who ran a marathon while on her period, and just let it flow, because… period shaming is a thing, I guess.  She wore nothing, and ran 26.2 miles to make people think women don’t care about biohazards, probably.  I can’t think of a single thing she accomplished by doing that besides ruining perfectly good running pants and shoes.  Once you have your placement figured out, all you need is that cup, here on out.  No back up pads.  No tampons.  Nothing but that cup.  I am so grateful that I tried it.  I absolutely love that cup.  For 5/7 days, I have my period, but I mostly forget that I’m bleeding, until I use the bathroom.  Then the cup goes back in, and my blissful, bulk-free, pad-free, tampon-free existence continues.

Now, it did take me some practice to get to this point.  I know my body well enough to realize I can’t get away with this pad-free nonsense on the first two days, because while my period is nowhere near as deliberate and unrelenting as it used to be, it’s still pretty damn metal.  For example, my friend confessed to me that she only has to take out her cup and dump it out once a day while she’s using it.  I must empty mine at least 6-7 times a day on Day 1 and Day 2.  Day 3 is markedly less intense and I then also only dump it once a day.  The cup can handle 10 ml of girly goo in there before it reaches Titanic-level crisis.  Yeah, my flow is metal.  Heavy metal.  The normal amount of flow for a woman per day is between 5-10 ml.  That sounds like a lot, but it’s only one to two teaspoons.  The cup is not without its drawbacks.  If you have to defecate, and in doing so use your pelvic muscles to push at all, the cup does respond to this pressure and will evacuate also.  However, as tampon using females are aware, this happens also with the tampons.  The difference being that you can just wash out the cup and wash off the extra bacteria.  The tampon just gets thrown away because, if you get that business on a tampon and reinsert it, you are asking for trouble.  So really, the cup beats out tampons and pads for managing periods.  It’s cleaner, easier on the environment, and they last for years.  This saves you money on buying endless stocks of pads and tampons and cutting coupons for deals on the good kinds.  I still have some of those pads, but I keep them for guests and the occasional reinforcements.  I now buy them a few times a year, instead of buying them every month to replenish my supply.  Washing them out in public restrooms can be tricky if you’re not in the habit of carrying flushable wipes in your purse.  Even though you can use toilet paper to accomplish the same thing, I prefer the pre-moistened wipes to reduce the risk of tearing the toilet paper and leaving small bits of it on the cup.  You wash this cup with mild soap every day at some point, and it stores in an adorably discreet little cloth bag.  It is so simple, and so easy, and I wish I would have learned about this in the girls’ health class back in 6th grade we all were subjected to.

So, if you’period tampons diva cupve made it to the end of this without gagging, I congratulate you, and I urge you to purchase or consider purchasing this incredibly convenient device and make that time of the month a little less uncomfortable.  I don’t get paid by anyone to recommend them or advertise for them.  I just love the product and what it does that much.  I hope this helps anyone who is looking for an alternative to what we all are used to.  Keep calm, and bleed on, ladies.*

*Unless you don’t have a uterus. If you don’t have a uterus and you’re bleeding from down there, get to an OB-GYN as soon as possible.

Jessica Fletcher is a guest writer for Mommy Perfect.

(This NOT a paid advertisement.  I am not paid by Diva Cup, or anybody else,  to promote this product.  I simply like it and think my readers will too.  You can purchase a Diva Cup by follow this link or use the store finder for a location near you. For more information about The Diva Cup please visit their website.  Disclaimer: this article does contain affiliate links.)

Thick Girls Can Move It Too

Published Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
thick girls can move it too
(Image source: Jell-O, vintage ad)

By Jessica Fletcher

As someone who hasn’t seen the scale dip below 160 in a long time, let me tell you it was not very enjoyable to read that 160 is what the average man weighed in 1950.  I’m pretty sure that the average man in 1950 was a little bitch that I could beat the ever-loving shit out of, though.  I am sick and tired of these damn cliches meant to make thick girls (like myself) feel better about their body types.  “You’re more than a number!”  I know I’m more than a number.  I’m more like three numbers.  

Fact is, I can kick some ass and put away some serious food, which are both activities I enjoy immensely.  Yeah, I have some huge thighs, and a protruding rump, complete with a little jelly on my sides and front, and I bring the shake with them fries.  Which, I don’t even eat anymore.  That’s right.  I stopped eating french fries.  Do you think my thighs noticed?  Fuck, no.  They’re still huge.  I’m built like a truck.  I eat like a horse, because I’m constantly hungry.  I crave all the food.  I am not blessed with a discerning palate.  I envy the picky eaters, because I wonder what it would be like to not literally contort with arousal whenever I see, smell, or even hear, food.  

So to make sure I can still fit into regular-people-sized chairs, doors, and vehicles, I struck up a fancy for exercise.  I go to a gym now which offers many classes at all hours of the day.  The class is the same all day, but it changes from day to day.  You can count on being tortured on the treadmill, on a water-rower machine, and with free weights – or your own body weight! I love it.  I don’t love it.  I hate it, but I love it.  Whatever, the people are great and not everyone looks like Jillian Michaels.  A lot of people at this gym look like Jack Black, actually.  However, there are a good number of ladies who wear the apparel, and have obviously spent hours toning and maintaining their svelte shapes.  

Today I took a seat on a water-rower next to one of these trim little harpies, and made a passing comment about how there was a very high probability of me pissing myself when doing the jump squats later on in this workout.  She laughed, and glanced at all my rolls, dismissed me, and resumed her focus on the water-rower.  It was time to dig in.  We had all just finished a circuit on the treadmills and with some free weights.  Now, we were to row 600 meters and do a circuit of 30 each of jump squats, squat-jacks, and squat calf raises.  I reset my counter, and started rowing.  I got into the music, which was a thumping rendition of some horrible pop song that had been overplayed on the radio to irritation, before it got remixed into something you’d hear at a club.  I think it was, “Call Me Maybe.” Whatever.  I timed my rows to the beat, and before I knew it, my 600 meters were done.  Miss Trim and Perky was still rowing.  Holy shit, I might beat her!  

I launched into my circuit of tortuous squat jumps and of course, as I predicted, I nearly pissed myself.  The consequences of being slack on my Kegels during my pregnancies.  I can’t even enjoy a trampoline anymore.  I finished that circuit, and even with slogging back some water and toweling my face, I was still ahead.  Time to row again.  This time 700 meters.  I beat her again.  I swallowed my smirk, and resumed the fucking squats that now stung my thighs much more viciously than before.  I shook out my legs, and got back onto the rower.  800 meters.  Done! Ha!

Take that, skinny bitch!  I almost let those words actually escape my too-eager tongue.  Instead, I did another circuit of squat jumps, jacks, and calf raises, and said nothing.  I enjoyed the feeling of satisfaction that I got from knowing I was stronger in one area than that girl.  I entertained the thought that maybe she’s recovering from an injury and that she just might not be on her game tonight.  Too often, I was in that exact same spot.  Forget that shit!  I beat this skinny little twat through all the circuits and rowed an additional 500 meters after I was officially done!  My legs were screaming at me, but they settled down to a dull grumble soon enough, and after I had stretched out, they had completely quieted.

I guess you can’t always tell a book by its cover.  I figured this muscular, trim, energetic little bunny would out perform me, and I’m sure she thought so as well.  Ha!  I saw her clench her jaw every time I hit the target before she did.  I bet she wondered how the hungry hippo beside her was rowing faster, and getting her circuit done more quickly when she was hauling all that jiggly padding around.  I left the gym feeling quite pleased.  I was, for the first time, victorious.  And not for the last time, hungry.

Jessica Fletcher is a guest writer for Mommy Perfect.

 

On Miscarriage and Planned Parenthood

Published Monday, August 17th, 2015
On Miscarriage and Planned Parenthood
(Image source: Philip Morris, vintage ad)

By Jessica Fletcher

Mt friend Patty is scheduled to give birth to her baby on Friday.  This baby’s heart stopped beating a few days ago.  She will give birth to her child whose life slipped away, without warning, while she was safely nestled inside of her.  Patty has two boys, and last year, she gave birth to a stillborn daughter.  I cannot describe how angry, and how heartbroken she is.  I can imagine her angst, and I find myself also disgusted with the injustice of it happening to her not only once, but twice.  Two children born sleeping, and never to wake.  She will never hear them cry, and she will only be able to hold them for a little while.  Their eyes will stay shut, and their small bodies will be still, and cold.  They’ll be taken from her arms, and buried in the earth never having even seen it.  

I think of my friend as I watch the media circus surrounding the atrocities that Planned Parenthood is finally being called out for (the recent videos intact babies being vivisected, organs harvested and sold for the profit of Planned Parenthood).  I watch the arguments being made in comment threads, whether it’s nobler for Planned Parenthood to be selling the fetal tissue and cadavers for “research,” or the “fact” that they save so many women’s lives through STD screenings.  My stomach turns.  My pulse quickens.  I cannot stop myself from speaking out to these people, whom I view as deceived at best, and ignorant at worst.  They call me all manner of names, accuse me of ignoring science, and clinging to religion.  I must be some dirty right winger who won’t stop trying to take women’s rights, and, their choice from them.  I am enraged that I have to even argue that killing children is wrong.  Why can’t they see that their sole stance is to champion an organization whose mission it is to primarily dismember and slaughter defenseless babies?

I close my laptop, set aside my phone, and watch as my children are there.  They’re playing or fighting with each other, squealing in delight or mock outrage.  They’re sticky, they’ve only just finished destroying my clean house with toys and leftover snacks.  

My three year old clambers up onto my lap, his chubby arms and legs squeeze my sides as he holds on and buries his nose and mouth into my shoulder.  He looks up at me and presses his face to mine.  I can smell whatever he last chewed on, mixed with the sour sweet scent of his baby soft-squishy skin, and he hums, “mmmmmmwwwahhhhh!” This is how he gives kisses.   Then he lets go and has me set him down, running off as soon as his feet touch the laminate flooring.  I try not to think of how much I wanted to not be pregnant with him when I found out I was.  I’ve been there, in the pro-“choice” camp.  Thankfully, I pulled my head out of my ass before I was completely ingrained into the culture of death.

I try not to think of how lacking of empathy or compassion these people truly are.  There have now been five videos released, describing and laying out unequivocally what Planned Parenthood’s true purpose is.  Their supporters have multiplied, and doubled down.  I want to believe that people are not truly evil, and I try to empathize with them.  Then I see what they turn a blind eye to, and defend.  My rage returns.  We should not be arguing that it is wrong to kill children.  The level of depravity one must embrace to accept, and defend the ridiculous position that women have an unalienable right to kill their unborn child is disturbing, at best.  I believe it is merely a symptom of the decay of moral absolutes, and we have been treading into the murky waters of moral relativism for some time now.  I’m not a philosopher.  I don’t have all the answers.  I know all of us are born with a sense of right and wrong.  We are not born innocent.  However, the unborn and other young children are as close to innocence as humans can ever conceive of being.  As mothers, we get to watch and nurture the innocence in the young lives entrusted to us more closely than anyone else.  It is our job to nourish them from the inside, choose which foods to strengthen their developing bodies, and surround them with which voices, music, and other sounds they’ll associate with being home.  

Becoming a mother is a gift, and not all are ready for it when it happens.  I wasn’t.  I was nineteen and alone.  Many people pressured me to “take care of it.” I thought about it and considered it longer than I should have.  There were very compelling arguments made for this by people who knew me and cared about me and my future.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I knew in my heart it would destroy not only my baby, but a part of me as well.  

I am especially disgusted when I speak to someone who is already a mother, and who advocates abortion with gusto.  I want to ask of them, “Which of your children would you kill now?” I don’t ask them.  I don’t like arguing in the first place.  It’s very tiresome arguing with supposedly sentient beings that are allegedly capable of reasoning that it is wrong to kill children.

Jessica Fletcher is a guest writer for Mommy Perfect and her views as expressed in this article are not necessarily the opinions of Mommy Perfect.

Postpartum Weight Loss

Published Monday, August 17th, 2015
Postpartum Weight Loss
(Image source: Duane Bryers)

By Jessica Fletcher

We all seem to always be looking for the easiest, most painless way to get in shape.  Its not as if we have five free hours every day to spend at the gym.  The trick is to never let yourself go in the first place.  I say trick because it is extremely tricky.  It took me the better part of three and a half years to lose 70 pounds off my 5’4, medium frame.  I weighed in at 237 pounds after delivering my youngest son, and I was devastated to see that number.

I was already working very hard on losing the weight I had gained from two previous pregnancies, when I found out I was pregnant again.  I weighed 185 pounds in 2011.  I gained over 75 pounds when I got pregnant with my very first child.  I surprisingly did not have gestational diabetes or any blood pressure issues.  I ended up being obese, but all my pregnancies were quite normal, no complications.  After each baby was born, I’d succumb to my post partum depression.  I would fall into the same habits of eating on the go, eating late at night, and eating because I was lonely and sad.  My husband works nights, and he has done so for the entirety of our relationship.  It works to eliminate the cost of daycare, and that is the only perk.  My husband has gained over 100 pounds since we started dating 10 years ago.  A lot of it has to do with the fact he can not get quality sleep.  More of it has to do with portion control and an addiction to soda.  

My husband had never become disgusted with me, the way many men do when their significant others pack on the pounds.  Maybe this was because he also packed it on, or maybe he was disgusted, but he never showed it.  Regardless, he never put pressure on me to exercise or order salads.  He never failed to tell me he thought I was beautiful and sexy to him.  

I would try to see myself as he saw me.  When I’d look into the mirror, I would look at my protruding, flabby stomach, complete with the shiny, purplish stretch marks etched all over.  I stared at my enormous thighs, my deflated breasts, and my pudgy arms and wonder… what in the hell he was on, and why wasn’t he sharing?  I decided to make a change.  I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror, and I refused to be in any pictures with my kids if I could help it.  I was ashamed of how large I was, and how ugly I believed that I looked.  I rarely wore makeup.  I almost never did my hair.  A day that I showered would be momentous, when it came to trying to look decent.  This is where most moms would say that their children deserved better, but if I’m being honest, this is where I told myself that I deserve better.

I wanted to look good, and I wanted to like myself.  I didn’t look good, and I didn’t like myself at that weight.  My kids could poop and puke on me to their heart’s content.  They didn’t care what I looked like.  They just wanted me to be happy.  And to make them macaroni and cheese.  I turned to the internet, and as internet searches are wont to do, I found a plethora of advice on how to lose weight quickly.  How to get toned abs.  A tight ass, toned arms, and a sleek figure.  I wanted these things.  

My initial purchase for the sole purpose of getting in shape was a dance video.  I didn’t even purchase it.  I told my husband I wanted to get a Zumba video.  I loved to dance when I was young, and a piece of internet advice that I had read instructed me to find something active that I enjoy doing.  The video was called, “Cardio Hip Hop.”  I did this video every other night, and I would be dripping with sweat and sore all over from exerting myself with only the moves shown in the video.  The video was 45 minutes long.  After a few months of this, I noticed a difference.   As results tend to do, the results turned into motivation to do more.  I re-joined the gym where I had been a member previously, and hired a personal trainer on the cheap to guide me into fitness.  I found myself able to crank out push-ups.  This gave me more confidence.  I was lifting weights, and doing exercises I never imagined I’d be able to do.  I’d never considered myself athletic, ever.  I was now down to 200 lbs (from 237) and I felt amazing.  I knew I had a long way to go, but it didn’t seem so daunting.   I got down to 190 and stayed there for about a year.  

Of course, no matter what I did I couldn’t get below 190.  I counted calories.  I reduced my caloric intake.  That resulted in cravings and crabbiness.  The scale was frozen.  I had seen advertisements for all manner of fad weight loss cleanse products.  None of them interested me.  I knew I would lose weight quickly, and then gain it back once I dared reintroduce my regular food.  No thanks.  My doctor encouraged me to try a “fast” with emphasis on fruits and vegetables.  This one encourages nutrition and forces you to create a habit of health.  The fast was 21 days long and it got results.  After 21 days of no dairy, no eggs, no nuts, no sugar, and 11 days without meat, I felt refreshed.  I lost 7 lbs on the fast, breaking my 190 plateau, and have not seen it come back.  I continued with my exercise regimen and ended up at my lowest weight in 13 years: 168 lbs.  

I have learned that my body weight fluctuates very easily.  I have fought so hard to keep my weight down below 180 for the last year.  I took up jogging.  I ran a 5K in public.  I never imagined myself walking more than a mile without getting winded.  I’m still new to running/jogging, and so the longest I’ve run is 5 miles.  However, running long distances is not my goal.  

Trying to accept my body for what it can do, what it has done, and being kind to myself are the bigger goals.  I’m that chubby suburban mom out there on the trails with her earbuds in, periodically pulling up her ill-fitting yoga pants.  Look closer and you’ll see me lip syncing to Nicki Minaj and Pitbull, pretending I’m 16 again and getting my groove on at the club.  I’m taking it one day at a time.  Some days, it’s moment to moment.  Some days, I fall off the wagon, but I get back on it.  Because I deserve more than excuses, and sometimes I even remember that and believe it.

Jessica Fletcher is a guest writer for Mommy Perfect.