“What does the Kool-Aid Man have to do with fitness?” you ask? Hang on. I’ll get to that.
Many years ago, when my husband was a LT in the army, we were stationed in Munich, Germany. It’s a magical land filled with schnitzels smothered in gravy and beers the size of your head. Heaven.
Good times were had there, and after a couple of years I found myself 30 pounds heavier and newly pregnant with my second child. I gave up the beers the size of my head and doubled down on the schnitzel. I was pregnant, it was a freezing cold winter, and I was trapped inside making Playdoh snakes with a two year old. So I thought I’d just hang out with my new best friends, The Carbohydrate Family. I was so happy, and busy, and in love that I didn’t really notice what was happening to my body anyway. And by the end of 9 months my 5’2” frame was well over 200 pounds. (“Ahhhhhh,” you’re saying to yourself. “This is where the Kool-Aid Man image comes in.” Not yet. Keep reading.)
I had my son, and he was amazing and all was right in my world. Then one day, when he was about four months old, I caught sight of my naked back side in the bathroom mirror and noticed, for the first time, that I was fat.
This was confirmed for me the next month when we got our first snow of the season and I tried to take my kids sledding. (Germans have sleds that are built more like wagons so you can drag even young children along. My son was bundled up and sitting in front of my daughter.) As I tugged them up the hill I had to stop and rest. “Wait. What? I’m 26 and I have to stop and rest? So I’m fat AND out of shape? How did this happen? Am I going to have a heart attack and die young, just like my dad did, and leave these kids without a parent?” And so there I stood on the hillside, my fat, out of shape self, stuffed into my husband’s bright blue snow coat, (looking a bit like the girl in Willy Wonka who turns in to a giant blueberry,) and I started crying.
And I raised my fist to the sky and shouted, “As God is my witness, I WILL lose weight! I WILL get in shape! And I will never, no, NEVER, be fat again!”
(Okay, so that part didn’t actually happen, but I warned you in another post that I’m prone to hyperbole.) But I really did cry.
And my dad really did die young, (first heart attack at 45, second, and fatal heart attack at 56.) So it wasn’t just a matter of being vain and wanting to NOT look like a blueberry, although that was a factor, but rather, I recognized that I owed it to my kids to get my act together and become a better, more fit, me.
There was a Jazzercise class on post that lots of my friends attended, and they suggested I come along. So I went to the PX (the army version of Walmart,) to look for an appropriate outfit. I wore an Extra Large at the time, and this fact, combined with it being the 80’s, left me with not so many awesome options. Okay, it actually left me with one option…a shiny, bright red unitard. I am fairly certain that it was at this precise moment that a Nike advertising exec standing nearby heard me exclaim, “Just do it,” and knew he was going to be getting a big-assed bonus that Christmas. As for me, that’s right, I was going to be the Kool-Aid man.
I’m not going to lie, walking in to that first class, wearing that outfit, (with a pair of shorts on top for a more slimming effect,) was not easy. But two years later, after countless hours of classes, and after parting ways with many of my very dear friends in the Carbohydrate Family, I was a Jazzercise instructor, I was at my goal weight, and I could definitely pull my kids up a hill on a sled.
And so, since Nike has already laid claim to “Just Do It,” here’s my new motto. “Go. Do. Be.”
Go out and find something you love to do, (or can learn to love. Check out this great post by Joel Runyon) and don’t worry about what you look like doing it. Don’t let fear hold you back. You have to crawl before you walk. (Just be happy it’s not the 80’s and you won’t have to do it in a unitard. Always a bright side.)
Do the work necessary. Goals aren’t achieved over-night. I know, I know, that sucks. But I speak from experience when I say that persistence pays off. Fall down 7 times, get up 8. Don’t give up.
Be hopeful and believe in yourself. You CAN do it. It might be difficult, but you are capable of more than you may think. Be like The Little Engine Who Could, and know that with enough effort and determination, you CAN do it!
And be grateful for all the things you can do right now. My dad used to say, “If you can get up in the morning and make it to the window to look out and see what kind of a day it’s going to be, well, then, it’s already a good day.” Smart guy. So if you’ve been given a body that works pretty well, be grateful, and take the best care of it that you can.
Be present. Notice all the good things around you. Smile more often. Speak to strangers. Hum a few bars of your favorite song. Whistle while you walk. Taking control of your attitude and your body is empowering. Roll around in that feeling for a while. A healthy lifestyle just makes you feel better. Share your happiness and notice how the world opens up for you.
Be proud. Change isn’t easy. So celebrate all your small victories, and forgive your fitness transgressions. Remember, it’s a process, and you’re moving in the right direction. Yay you for making it happen!
Go. Do. Be.
Now, anybody want some Kool-Aide?