Battle of the Muffin Top

Sadly, this is not a blog entry about wrestling the top of a tasty muffin away from my child, although that kind of behavior did contribute to the topic of today: that dreaded muffin top. I would love to blame my jeans. After all, what adult who is larger than a size 4, wants to wear low-slung jeans that require having perfectly slim, sculpted hips and abs? But the reality is, I’ve been ignoring the growing problem of my midsection for way too long. Too many broken New Year’s resolutions, too many excuses to not visit the gym, too many late night gab fests over carbs and wine.

Like many, I have started (and cheated on) many diets. I try avoiding carbs, avoiding alcohol, not eating past 7pm, only eating foods that are green or yellow, eating while slowly jogging in place, only eating my daughter’s leftovers, etc. Unfortunately, none of them have helped, because according to recent studies, in order to lose weight, not only do you have to exercise and follow a healthy diet, you also need to:

  • get adequate amounts of sleep
  • reduce stress

I think any parent reading this right now had a good snort or chuckle at those two. I did, even as I was writing them. Because no matter my good intentions, I am patently unable to get to bed before 11pm. When your “free time” starts in the evening, it’s hard to give up those precious moments to relax, catch up with the spouse, feed your brain some quality tv junk food, and while you’re at it, feed your increasing belly some satisfying junk food too.

However, four years later and twenty pounds heavier, I looked in the mirror one morning in horror and thought – is this the best my body can be for the rest of my life? I mean, it only goes downhill as we get older. And early thirties is just too young to give up on my body!

Now, many of these observations are shallow and focused on appearances. No one likes having their belly and hips hanging out of their pants. Everyone would love to find a flattering pair of jeans or swimsuit that makes them want to leave the house and flaunt it. But what really struck me was this: I can be healthier than this.

I can be stronger than this. I want to be able to run after my child, I want to play with her (instead of worn out refrain of “mommy’s too tired”), and most importantly, I want to be around for a long, long time. I want to watch her graduate, and get married, and play with my grandchildren, years and years from now.

So with that motivation in mind, I got to work. It is slow going. It is hard. But it’s for the very best of reasons. So I started tracking my calories and stayed within my limit (which at 1200 calories a day is HARD). I dress in work out clothes every morning M – F and I hit the gym as soon as I drop her off at preschool. And I sweat. And curse and push harder and go farther. And day by agonizingly slow day, little by little, it’s working. Down twelve pounds, looking trimmer, and feeling stronger already. After all, my daughter is counting on me, even if she doesn’t know it yet.

I remind myself daily, I have to take care of myself in order to care for her. And I want to be a good role model. Nothing makes me happier than when she comments that “Mommy, are you exercising? That’s good. Because you need strong muscles to do things, like ballet and play soccer. When I grow up and I’m big, I’ll have strong muscles too.”

Yes, darling, yes you will. And I want to be around to see it.