Busy, busy, busy. That’s our mantra sometimes, isn’t it? Busy working full time. Busy volunteering. Busy cooking meals, walking the dog, carpooling the kids, keeping up with the house, keeping up with the Jones.
Since we really can’t do it all, some things slide. For me, this year, it was a regular exercise routine and healthy eating habits. Lots of days I didn’t have time to pack a lunch and I would just buy the school lunch. So many days, I was too tired to exercise. To unwind, I substituted a glass of wine on the comfy couch instead. And way too many days of birthday cupcakes (darn those third graders!) started to add up.
Cupcakes weren’t the only thing adding up, however. So were the pounds. Remember the time I wrote about eating peanut M & M’s at work when the button popped off my jeans? That happened not once, but twice! In total, I had gained 8 lbs since September. Now, you wouldn’t look at me and say I was fat. It was the way I felt. I felt out of shape. I felt tired. I felt out of control with my lack of discipline. And none of my clothes fit.
I tried to change my habits. I gave up sweets for Lent. It went well for the first few weeks. Then one day I asked God to forgive me and ate an entire box of Girl Scout cookies. I know, horrible. Sorry, God.
“This summer I will get in shape,” I finally declared. It became my new mantra. “When summer comes, I’ll have time to exercise. When summer comes, I will cook healthy foods.” That said, I initially ignored the Facebook post that my friend Michelle wrote about a 35 day fitness program she was doing in May. But something pulled me back to it. Maybe it was God, still not happy about those Samoas.
The 5 week diet and exercise program promised results. Michelle had done it before and highly recommended it. It was a huge commitment to healthy eating and challenging workouts. Hmmm. Instead of waiting until summer to get into shape, what if I was in shape BY summer? I went to the website to get more information. The program is called Fit for Photos and it promised to get me looking “hot” for a photo shoot in just five weeks. I didn’t really want to look hot for a photo shoot, I just wanted to feel better about myself and stop popping the buttons off my pants. I signed up.
The program began the day after Memorial Day and ended July 1. Now that I’m finished, I can tell you that it absolutely was challenging and difficult. I didn’t drink any alcohol for 35 days. I had to keep a food log which restricted my sugar, dairy and carbohydrates. Sometimes, I had to fit 2 workouts in one day. It was also an amazing, positive experience. I was assigned to a team of 4 women. In 5 short weeks, we became so close. We asked questions, shared advice, laughed together and supported each other. In addition to my team, the entire FFP group was encouraging and supportive.
My family was so supportive of me too. “You are inspiring all of us, Mom,” Katherine told me. Paul started increasing his exercise too. Jack even got up at 5:00 am once to do a workout with me. By the end of the five weeks I lost 10 lbs, gained strength and fit in my clothes again. I also gained new friendships, and the realization that, if I make a healthy lifestyle a priority, I can find time for it.
Now it was time for those pictures. The program is called Fit for Photos, after all. I had been dreading it—after all, I’m a 42 year old mother of 2 kids, not a supermodel! Luckily Meredith and Christy Jenkins Photography were an amazing team! Meredith welcomed me into her home for a makeup session, making me look gorgeous. Then, pampered and pretty, I headed off with Christy, her head brimming with creative photo shoot ideas. She must have snapped hundreds of pictures of “the new me” at three different locations. I actually felt like a model by the end of it all.
I know the photos reflect my growing outer strength. Jack saw one and said, “Wow, my mom’s got a 6 pack!” I hope my smile in the pictures reflects a little pride from finding my inner strength. One thing this program taught me: It was there all along.