Saturday, September 18, 2010


I generally gain about fifteen pounds during the crunch period of a writing project. I sit too long, move too little, and nibble to stay alert when I hit a creative block. After the manuscript is turned it, I celebrate by taking a hard look at what my literary sacrifice has wrought upon my middle-aged body--an increased mid-tummy tire, enlarged saddle bags, and perhaps a new chin to boot. As always, I begin a renewed commitment to getting to bed by ten, padlocking the fridge, and I begin a new exercise regimen.

In truth, my numerous attempts to sustain an exercise program have failed miserably, or else I wouldn't be blogging about the new physical attributes I've earned while hammering out "Oh Say Can You See?"

My daughter, Amanda, delivered a new baby girl seven weeks ago, and as soon as she hit her six-week check-up, we hit the park trail with the babies in tow, to begin a walking routine. It's perfect. We begin as soon as the babies are up and fed. Amanda wears Avery in her front pack and I push Brady in the stroller. We pause at the playground so Brady can slide and swing, and we get some fresh air and mother/daughter chat time.

We do okay. Sure, some granny-aged veteran walkers lap us, and we do note that while we walk the track, many jog past us three times. Still, we pull our elastic-waisted sweat pants up, align the neck of our baggy t-shirts pulled from the bottom drawer where our exercise/ housecleaning/gardening togs are stored, we square our shoulders and push on, claiming our spot on the trail!

But we've also begun to note the wry smiles the veteran exercisers give us as they press past our slovenly little parade. "Newbies," they seem to say as their spandex-ed legs race past our moseying fleece. I give my husband's baseball cap a firm tug, wondering where I can pick up one of those cute, pink visor-things with the "Joggin' Mama" logo.

"How is it that they don't even break a sweat?" I ask myself. Then I realize that they do, only when you're dressed in cute exercise clothes, sweat turns to sheen, and that ruddy "I think I'm about to have a heart-attack" flush appears to be merely a healthy glow.

"We've got to get ourselves some cute exercise clothes," I tell Amanda. "Some black pants with a racing stripe down the leg. They're very slimming." Her expression tells me while I might be on to something, I shouldn't expect too much from a measly pair of pants. "And some cute tops too," I add. She accommodates my dream with a nod and a smile. "Sure, Mom. We'll go shopping."

I need her to catch my dream. I look up swagger in the Urban dictionary:

How one presents him or her self to the world. Swagger is shown from how the person handles a situation. It can also be shown in the person's walk.

YEAH. . . . . . . . !!!

"We need some "swagger," Amanda. We need to dress like we're serious about this exercise thing." Then I wonder what a plus-sized, middle-aged woman would look like in spandex pants with a racing stripe. The image causes me to break out in a sweat . . . and I'm not even moving.

I pull up a web page and begin looking for the fall collection of fleece. Yeah . . . swagger is what swagger does. I'll just have to pull it off in fleece, and spare my family the need of psycho-therapy from viewing a failed fashion experiment.


  1. Oh man...I totally hear you. I remember when I first began writing I was also reading a lot. I had found Stephenie Meyer through the Laurels in our ward and watched her gain a lot of weight over the next little while. I commented to my husband that I would never let that happen. Pshaw, it did, and I understood how easy it is. I've got a much better routine now and have dropped 25 of the 45 I gained. Of course the weight was also a result of some health issues, but the writing schedule I kept totally didn't help. I move around a lot more and I don't eat while I'm writing. I'm too distracted to even notice how much I've eaten, or to even enjoy it.

    Congrats on getting out there! That's the important thing. Not the clothes. But if they motivate you to work harder, then of course they're the right move. Whatever gets you motivated. :) Thanks for the wonderful inspiration.

  2. Good for you for hittin' the pavement, with or without a racing stripe!

  3. I bought a pair of racing stripe pants for the same reason, thinking it would make me seem slimmer. Then I realized the only thing that partially camouflaged my writer's butt was a skirt. So my mom, my teenager, and I decided to walk the 2-mile trail around the marina. I wore a casual a-line skirt that was comfy enough for walking. This middle-aged, veteran jogger passed us 3 times going the opposite direction. She wore a BYU shirt, so every time she passed my mom would shout, "Go BYU!" The woman never responded, so I wanted to groan and hide my face. Then the wind picked up, nearly blowing my skirt over my head several times. My teenager denies it, but I swear out of the corner of my eye I caught her hiding her face too!

  4. Thanks for the atta-boys, ladies! Who'd-a-thunk writing would be so perilous to the hips?

  5. Ah-ha ladies, I'm so happy to know what has caused this big muffin bulging around my middle!

    Now I tell you, I know muffins have their place and are wonderful to eat, but to have a gigantic one hanging below the boobs is a terrible disgrace!

    Makes me wonder which bulge to put a bra on... now, who ever heard of a two bra brod? LOL

    ~Joyce S. of Tumbleweed Lane

  6. Love these "tales from literary trenches!" You ladies are awesome. Now, let's hit the track!

  7. I make myself exercise most days, but then I only write one book per year, if I'm lucky. Good for you exercising, and doing it with someone else is so much more fun.