What Does It Mean to Be in Shape?

At 6:30 am, a text message *bings* – my brother, on his way to the gym. It’s an hour earlier for him, and I ask why he’s up. If I don’t workout before work, I might not do it the rest of the day.

Makes sense. I know the feeling. I had every intention of playing tennis Saturday morning and going to yoga yesterday and somehow, life got in the way.

Today so far, I’ve meditated for 17 minutes, answered a few emails, showered and taken pictures off the walls for packing. I’ve awakened two children and had a long interesting conversation with the third. Dan made the lunches and dinner in the crockpot. Now I’m writing this.

When was I supposed to workout, exactly? My alarm didn’t even go off at 5 a.m. as I thought I had set it. It’s a full day ahead with no real time for a real workout of any kind. Frankly, I barely have enough time to work. And then the fifth-grade camp information night which I thought I could blow off, my tearful daughter insisted I must attend.

So when exactly does this happen?

And yet my jeans were tight this morning, so I pulled them off and wriggled into the skinny jeans, which give me the illusion of being thin.

I’m 42 years old, and I’ve tried for a long time to accept my body as it is. Except I am not succeeding. I watch TV and say to my husband, “I need to be thinner.”

He doesn’t know whether he should respond with a “you’re perfect/sexy/beautiful as you are” or a “you need time to workout?” Should he tell me it doesn’t matter whether I’m 5-10 pounds this side of that weight (which I know it really doesn’t) or support me in my desire to get fit?

Men can’t win, of course, and then there’s my brother, driving in the Illinois dark to a gym where he’ll run on the treadmill or lift weights or both to feel good and look good and most of all be healthy before he gets to the office.

But he’s a dad, not a mom, and he doesn’t have the simultaneous worry about meeting kids’ needs and meeting his own needs. He’s a good dad. It’s just different.

So what am I left with in the dark not-quite-dawn of a Monday?

Workout more instead of berating myself. It’s good for the soul and good for the heart and good for the body and provides peace of mind. It’s just something I need to figure out.

Perhaps the answer is that the kids will be fine if I’m gone a little more. Perhaps the answer is a little bit of accepting myself as I am and also working toward the healthier weight/silhouette.

Perhaps the answer is to move to a country where beauty is in the eye of the beholder and not influenced by magazine covers.

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