90 Day Challenge


I’m participating in this thing called a “90 Day Challenge” through my gym, Lifetime.

First, let me get a few things straight:

  • I’m not doing this for my wedding.
  • I’m not doing this for anyone else.
  • I’m not doing this “to lose weight.”

Yes, as a side effect, I will look a lot better in my wedding dress, but that’s next year. I still have a lot of room to screw up between now and then. Besides, the dress is stretchy anyways.

Okay, and yes, my fiancé might enjoy seeing me slimmer and more toned. And that could be a lot of fun.

Yes, I would enjoy “losing weight” because I would like to see that scale number dip a bit lower. But then there’s always the argument that people don’t believe they are thin enough, toned enough, whatever enough to be happy. I used to think I would be happy if I could just get to the weight I am now. Now that I’m here and have stayed in this weight range reliably for 6 months, I know that it is not the specific weight that matters, but how you feel – and most importantly, how you feel about yourself.

Why am I doing it?

I am doing it to feel in control of my body. I’m doing it to reach for my potential. I’m doing it to fit into clothes I want to wear. I’m doing it to tone and transform.

This week, I was thinking about all the things people say when you tell them you’re going to work out.

You don’t need to.

Thank you. It’s a choice, though. I want to work out. It makes me feel good in my mind and my body. It keeps my trick knee from killing me. It releases endorphins and I feel more at peace with my life. I am a better worker, parent, and person when I get my chosen work outs. Also, the doctor told me I need a steady regime to keep off blood pressure medication.

But you’re already great at…

Thanks! I’m flattered that you think so. I know I can do some things well, but I also know where I am striving to improve. I’ve seen the things some other people can do. If I keep with my routine – and change it up a little for maximum benefit – I might reach my personal goals of being able to do different things. I couldn’t always do a handstand. I only got that through consistent practice, and I have so much more I want to be able to do.

Surely skipping one day won’t hurt.

True. Sometimes it’s even good to skip a day, or at least an afternoon to rest. You can approach the next work out with more energy. However, I’ve got to do something, or I’ll lose some of my hard-earned flexibility. I might even re-injure my knee if I don’t keep it in use. The next time I try to do something I know I can do, I might injure myself because I might be stiff or sore or inflexible. You don’t hear my joints pop and creak when I’ve missed a day. You don’t feel the stiffness in my knee when I haven’t taken the time to work it carefully, slowly, thoughtfully. You don’t feel the tightness in my shoulders or my legs when I try to go into a posture. On the same note, only I know how it feels to sink straight into what I want to do because I’ve already put the work in and I’m maintaining. Only I know how it feels to me when I realize I’m the only one in class with the flexibility to get the posture I want. It’s a heady feeling, and it immediately humbles me to think of how far I still have to go.

Why do you spend so much time at the gym?

First, I like the people at the gym. I feel welcome, so it feeds my soul to go and be around my gym friends. They want nothing out of me. All I need to do is work out, be myself, and kibitz. I don’t owe them work; I don’t need to volunteer to help run something; and I don’t need to make my life pretty for them. I can just be. Also, I know myself. Sure, I could work out at home or just go bike riding with my kids. Does that push me? Does that make me put out my full effort? No. I always hold back. I’m riding rear guard to make sure I’m there if someone crashes or falls behind. I get interrupted at home. I’m not challenged enough by myself. I see other people, I not only get inspired, I also have a streak of competitiveness that drives me to see if I can do something at least as well (if not better) than the people around me. It takes an hour for a class, plus fifteen minutes around it for transit time. Add in a shower at any point, and I’ve dedicated about one and a half to two hours for one work out. And I really need about two each day to get where I need to be.

You’re not fat.

Thank you. In my head, I am the fat chick. I self-identify with the fat chicks. I look at the skinny, lean, beautiful women, and I put myself outside of their group. I even look at the yoga teachers in all their grace and muscles and feminine curves and strength and beauty, and I can only admire them. Even though a number of people recently have told me that I should be a yoga teacher, in my head, I’m not good enough yet – and not just in needing to develop and hone skills, but also in looking like someone who treats her own body as a temple. (The super funny thing about this comment was I even got that last night. A guy was talking about how he likes skinny chicks – like size 2 skinny – and he was trying to make a point that “Big Beautiful Women” think they deserve “Fabios.” As he was talking, he’s was like, “Not girls like you – you’re not fat.” And I’m wondering how I must look to him with my current wonderful little muffin top rolling over my gym shorts.)

What do you do with your kids?

Thanks for asking. Are you volunteering to babysit for me? Honestly, I pay for child care at the gym, and I try to arrange some of my work outs to coincide with fun kids’ activities at the gym so that they get something out of going, too. I’ve begun experimenting with allowing my daughters increasing levels of responsibility, staying at home by themselves while I’m at the gym. I constantly juggle day care, gym child care, play dates, and self-reliance. Occasionally, I’ll even take them with me to a class. The thing is, most of the time when people ask this question, they don’t really want to know what you do; they’re horrified that you are doing something without your children and want to shame you into their concept of appropriate behavior. These are frequently the women who don’t work outside the home and cannot conceive of not having time to work out while their kids are at school. These women also are usually married, so they can leave the kids with their husband and have no worries.

Here are some things people could do to be supportive:

  • Positive remarks on my progress. If you see that I can do something I couldn’t do before or you see a change in my attitude or physical being, say something nice.
  • Share a recipe with me for something that looks healthy. I don’t care if I can eat it or not based on my meal plan. It’s the thought that counts. Really.
  • Talk to me about what you’re doing. Tell me about the stuff you’re trying to reach your own goals. It doesn’t have to be health or fitness related – I am genuinely interested in your progress because I want to be your cheering section, too.
  • Offer to come with me to a class or have me join you in one of your favorite classes. There are few things more motivating to me than working out with a friend.
  • Talk me up when I want to quit. If I’ve had a rough day, remind me how much better I’ll feel after I go to the gym. Don’t be too kind to me. I probably just want to curl up in a cave and drink alcohol and eat myself into a carb coma. Encourage me to get out there are reach my goals. I’ll feel better when I have done something toward my goal.
  • Invite me to go do something fun or exciting – or just to have a cup of coffee. Whatever you’ve got going on that lights a fire in you, invite me along. I’m a pretty social little butterfly, but I don’t get out much, and I have fewer going out friends than you might think.
  • Ask about my progress. Show interest in the little gains I make. I know they might mean nothing to you, really, but fake it just a little. You know a fake orgasm is only fake for the person faking it. 

Anyhow, Monday is my weigh-in day. I really start my challenge August 11, after I get back from seeing my BFF. 

My goal is to make a measurable difference in my body fat percentage, increase my strength and stamina, tone my core and thighs, and see more definition in my shoulders and back. Food-wise, I want to be more consistent with water intake, reduce toxins in my system, and find a meal plan that is tenable for the long haul.


One response »

  1. (I know you didn’t number them, but I’m trying to be sensicle. Is that a word? No.)1, 2, 3, & 5 : Glad you are making healthy choices and following through on goals. That is so hard for me to do. I have no follow through. So it’s nifty to see you doing it. As for the “fat” thing: you totally aren’t, but I totally get the whole “Oh, I am fat” thing that goes on in our heads when we’re not at our own personal vision of perfection.

    4. I am so uncomfortable at the gym. From the decor (always with the gray and the bright colors combined! AIE! would it kill them to make a lady friendly gym?) to the skinny, skinny people staring or doing double-takes, to the fact that there are never enough instructions on the machines, I CANNOT STAND being in a gym. So, umm, all of that to say: glad you have found a comfortable one for you.

    6. You know I love you and your kids, right? That I’m not being judgmental, just curious as to how you’re working this whole fabulous single mama thing you’ve got going, right? Cause if you had some magic way of working things that I could possibly steal and use in my own environment, I totally would love that. Yeah. Also, your kids are awesome. I want to squeeze them right now.

    7. I got you an August yoga calendar for while you are here, if you are here this week, and sadly, the closest Lifetime to us is GARLAND, so you could come once or twice to my little gym and to Nick’s (I think) as a guest. So, planning, I have done some.

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