by Robin Dance

Married over half her life to her college sweetheart, Robin's guilty pleasure is Reddi Wip from the can. Mom to three, she's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea. Follow her on Twitter. Her beautiful new blog robindance.me is a must-see.


Incredible difference-makers

I‘m a walkin’, talkin’, livin’, breathin’ cliché:

I joined a fitness boot camp for the first time in my life, AND began the Whole 30, shortly after the new year was born.

In my heart, neither of them have anything to do with resolutions or new years; I’d rather believe they’re a matter of coincidental timing. But I am an unashamed “resolutions girl” with a slew of “do-betters” and “improvements” in my periphery for this year, so maybe (likely) they’re tied to that mulligan we’re thrown after the big ball drops.

More than all other days of the year, I really, really feel like anything is possible on January 1st.

Regardless, weight loss is not my motive or primary concern for either commitment. Taking care of my body is.

Come August, my youngest will head to college and we’ll be empty nesters. Truer words may never have been spoken: “The days are long but the years are short.” From where I sit, it’s painful in some ways, but it’s the natural order of life and I’m more thankful than sad.

With view of that in mind, a hard reality hit me recently:

I’m closer to holding my grand babies than my own children as babies.

Whoa…sobering but beautiful.

Once that season arrives, I want to feel good. I want to be healthy enough to play with them on the floor and keep them for Grammy Camp (load ‘em up on sugar and fun and send ‘em back rotten and wild) (I kid – sorta).

But here’s the thing: while I have some really good qualities, resolve and follow-through are not my strong suits. I’m easily tempted to eat “just a bite” of junk food…which quickly escalates to a gallon bowl of chocolate ice cream, a squirt of Reddi-Wip (don’t judge), or a bowl of Dove Promises (dark chocolate with almonds–almonds are healthy, right??).

My husband and I went through the Whole 30 last April and my only known cheat was weighing twice over the course of 30 days. I wouldn’t even chew gum. The folks behind the Whole 30 know their plan is more about health and ending a dangerous love affair with sugar and high-calorie/low nutritional value foods than weight loss.  It’s science and physiology, logic and reason. Those qualities are appealing and motivating.

Almost three weeks into this Whole 30 and 2½ weeks into boot camp, there’s something you need to understand:

I’m the one who shouted louder than any of you, “I COULD NEVER DO THAT!”

I’m talking about this much restriction in my meal plan:

  • no sugar or sugar substitutes
  • no added sugar (read your labels–everything has added sugar in some form)
  • no grains (bread AND pasta, for the love…)
  • no dairy
  • no legumes (all beans, peanuts, soy, and their derivatives)
  • no alcohol
  • no MSG, sulfites, or carrageenan (which I’d never noticed, but now realize is in tons of processed foods)

And my boot camp?

  • 5:30-6:30 am, as in BEFORE THE SUN EVEN WAKES UP!
  • Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • With women 10…20…and even over 30 years YOUNGER than me.

I’ve always believed there was no point in even starting; I knew I was doomed to fail because I like a little coffee with my cream and sugar. Plus, I’m deathly allergic to 5:00am.

So why did I bother this time? What would compel me to try not one, but both, when I’ve always been so certain I couldn’t do either?

I discovered three things that are making THE difference this time. Though I have several weeks remaining for both, I believe I’m positioned to finish strong. Here’s what’s keeping me going and why I can make so bold a proclamation:

1. The Fun Factor

My neighbor attends Boot Camp with me. We’re both out of shape, in a class with 75% hardbodies. Neither of us are early morning people and we were intimidated to walk in the door. But we’re doing it; having a partner in crime is keeping us both going. We talk about our fears and hoped-for results on the drive to class; we process together afterwards and laugh at ourselves. A lot. While I can’t say I’m having fun in class, I’m having fun with my friend

On the Whole 30 side, I know I couldn’t make it without my husband joining me. For most people, a restricted diet is NOT going to be fun; but to have another person who is experiencing the same cravings and frustrations – and, more importantly, can make light of it with you – makes a gargantuan difference when what you really want is a roll of Toll House cookie dough.

2. My Choices Affect Others

I love Mandi’s post from last month, The Value of Accountability. We all already know that accountability will help us remain committed; but the thing is, until you’re tested in this area, you cannot fully realize its truth. Knowing something is not the same thing as putting it into practice.

My neighbor and I, my husband and I, we’re in each of these pursuits together. If I falter, they’ll suffer–I can’t have that on my shoulders! While I’m not responsible for their success or failure, I can help make a difference in their outcome.

And there’s another way my choices are affecting others, surprising to me: I’m inspiring them to try things they didn’t think they could do! “If Robin can do it, I can do it!” How’s that for a paycheck?

3. Re-framed Motive

Both of these choices are lifestyle choices, not dieting or hoping to drop a dress size. This is about my long-term health, feeling better, stewarding my body well. I’m finding a sense of accomplishment because I’m actually doing something I’ve often said I could never do.

In one sense, dieting is about what “you” think about me; me trying to follow culture’s Supermodel Skinny mandate. But, suddenly, when my motive shifts to a concern for my health and future with an eye toward playing on the floor with imaginary grand babies, everything changes.

Imagine that.

Does this change your perspective about the way you eat? Might you re-consider fitness as a lifestyle changes to improve your health and wellbeing? If you’ve set out to accomplish lifestyle change in the past, to what do you owe your success or short-comings?

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The practice of loss

I‘m married to a man who’s practically the opposite of me. He’s a textbook left-brain analytical engineer, punctual, logical, strategic and decisive. “I’m gonna need some more information” is an often spoken phrase of his, and I’m convinced Joe Friday is his long lost uncle – Just the facts, ma’am. I know he’s thinking that even if (read more…)

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Starting over. Again.

When I think about my Top Ten Least Favorite Things To Do, moving would make the list somewhere between “colonoscopy” and “ironing.” If ever there was motivator for simple living, it’s the act of packing up ALL of your things and then unpacking all of your things. I’ve moved twice in the past ten years (read more…)

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To know them is to love them

Have you ever had an unexpressed need or desire, maybe even one you didn’t realize you had until someone satisfied it for you? I’m convinced we all do. My sister recently gave me a present for no particular reason, something she had seen in a gift shop that instantly reminded her of me: a small (read more…)

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The art of listening

It’s something I’ve told my children since before they could fully understand what it meant: God gave you two ears and one mouth so you could listen twice as much as you speak.  (So you should listen twice as much as you speak…?) I’d do well to follow the same advice; wouldn’t most of us? Listening, active listening, is (read more…)

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