If You Want to Change Your Life You Have to Change You

by Chloe Jeffreys · 16 comments

in Aging Well, Health and Wellness, Women in Midlife

The first time ever I took a picture of my butt and put it up on the internet.

I hated PE.I was always the smallish, self-consciously uncoordinated, weak girl, as opposed to the smallest spry girl who could always do a gajillion pull-ups that every class seems to have.Always picked next to the last for the team, just in front of the girl wearing headgear, I never felt athletic.I couldn’t kick worth a damn, my suckiness at kicking was only rivaled by my inability to either catch a ball or hit it with a bat. I liked to run, but I wasn’t fast enough for track. I wasn’t agile or small enough for gymnastics. And I was too short for basketball. The only game I was ever good at was dodgeball. And I was very good at dodgeball.

I wasn’t really athletic until I met the lady on the left. Miss Jane Fonda.  Through her I discovered that I might not be fast or agile, or particularly sporty, but boy can I work out. I learned to “feel the burn” and I learned to like it. There is just something incredibly satisfying in it for me. I feel accomplished at the end. Also pumping those endorphins doesn’t hurt either..

Along with Jane was the old infamous “20 Minute Workout” I once had a link to a “20-Minute Workout” but youtube pulled it down.

The 20-Minute Workout, in retrospect, was a little sort of soft pornish maybe (I suspect now that more men might have been watching it than women actually doing the exercises), but it was a great workout and I often set my alarm for 5am to get up to do it. Looking at them now I can see why my left knee bothers me. I also wonder how I didn’t throw my neck out more often (I did, but I just sucked it up because, “No pain, no gain”).

Over the years, exercise has gone in and out of my life as time, motivation and money has allowed. When my children went off to public school I became a member of a Women’s Gym for about a year and that was the best out-of-home-gym experience I ever had. It was a serious, full-service gym for women serious about fitness. I learned a lot about weight training and circuit training while I was a member there. Then I went to nursing school and literally sat on my butt for 2 years studying.

After nursing school, I just didn’t have the time. Working, raising kids, buying a new home, and ministry all kept me very busy. Then I started homeschooling. Between working, homeschooling, raising kids, and ministry, I was very busy. I didn’t have time for working out and I didn’t make time either.

Taking time to workout seemed frivilous and selfish. And the gang I was hanging with, the ardent, conservative, homeschool mom set, didn’t exactly support members in wasting their precious time on frivilous and selfish pursuits. Women who would leave their children to go to a gym were “those women” and I didn’t want to be one of those women. I wanted to be one of “these women”, the women with perfect children. I also wanted to be a good Christian and for me at that time that meant lots and lots of volunteer church work. If I wasn’t working, homeschooling, cooking, or cleaning, then I was prepping for a class I was teaching or studying for a class I was taking. If exercise was a sacrifice I had to make for perfect children and to be a godly Christian then so be it.

Those were the gigantic clothes years. It doesn’t matter if you are fit when you are wearing gigantic clothes. My gigantic clothes and the fact that I didn’t waste my time pursuing frivolous time-wasters like working out were proof I was a good mother AND a good Christian.

In June 2009, I wrote a series of blog posts about my life crisis and the journey of losing and regaining my groove. Part of the process of regaining my sense of self and health was exercise.

Today I consider exercise to be one of my major coping mechanisms. In the summer I spend quite a bit of time out hiking, but in the winter I focus on indoor cardio/circuit training.

Tomorrow I thought I’d give a description of my regime in the hopes that it might be an encouragement to others. Today I took a picture of my current results. Not bad, huh?

This is aging gracefully

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Barlow July 5, 2011 at 6:46 pm

My journey has been so much like your own Chloe. Sometimes I just shake my head and laugh. My mother died a long horrific death from cancer when I was 24 years old. My heart aches for you girl. While I was raising my perfect kids I did very little to keep myself healthy and also wore the huge clothing to cover up my body. Now that I have realized that no amount of self sacrifice can produce those perfect kids I am working on getting my heart, mind and body back into good shape. I could sure use some encouragement to get back in to a work out routine. I am walking but need to do some other things as well. Your picture is a great inspiration. Thanks and keep it coming please.

Reply

Godsmacked July 5, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Holy cow, C! You look great! ~tj

Reply

Anne July 5, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Is that Georgia photobombing you?

When that Jane Fonda video came out I was twelve. We did the workout at a camp I was at. No warm up, no cool down, concrete floors for exercising.

The next day the muscles of my entire young body locked up so hard I could barely move for days.

Bad exercising put me off good exercising.

I'm focusing on just walking now. Just getting up and moving makes me feel better.

Reply

Carrie December 6, 2010 at 10:22 am

You look fabulous!

Reply

Chloe December 5, 2010 at 5:28 am

I'm a bad blog host. Sorry that I haven't responded to all these great comments.

JennyLuv, you are doing very great and important work. As a professional caregiver, I can say that burnout is a harsh reality when we give and give to others. I've been burned out and had to learn the hard way that I can't give to my patients what I don't have. Take care of you! You are a lovely lady and you're worth it.

Godsmacked: Thanks. I'm blushing. Really. At 42, I thought my best days were over and done. I can't believe that I feel and look better at almost 50 than I did at 40. If I can do it anyone can. Really.

Anne: Yep. Miss Georgia just can't not be in the spotlight.

Bad exercise experiences can affect a person for life. That's why I brought up the PE thing. Here's this class that they have in school that's there to help people get exercise and see the importance of exercise in your life. But for many people PE is a terrible experience. I used to try to find ways to get out of it any and every chance I got. I hated and loathed it.

Finding something that you like is important, and sticking with it. And for me it was realizing that I'm not going to be defined by some bad experience I had when I was 7 years old.

Diane: It is so wonderful that Susan has brought us together. I am so encouraged by you and to know that I'm not just crazy. I did go through those things; they were real. I really did want to be the perfect mom and the perfect Christian. I tried so hard.

Kristi R. I can't wait to see your success. You go!

Jamie Jo: You are so right. I thought that if I did the perfect things only the perfect things would happen for me and for my children. Learning to love and accept the imperfect me allows me to love imperfect others better. And that's waaayy mor important than being perfect.

Ms. Zoo: Thanks. (blushing) I'm so glad I didn't believe myself when I told myself that I was over the hill and it was all a waste of time. Now I'm here to tell everyone that it is never too late to take good care of yourself.

Susan, don't be discouraged! You are the epitome of aging well. I envy you.

Susan, don't be discouraged!

Reply

Chloe December 5, 2010 at 5:28 am

I'm a bad blog host. Sorry that I haven't responded to all these great comments.

JennyLuv, you are doing very great and important work. As a professional caregiver, I can say that burnout is a harsh reality when we give and give to others. I've been burned out and had to learn the hard way that I can't give to my patients what I don't have. Take care of you! You are a lovely lady and you're worth it.

Godsmacked: Thanks. I'm blushing. Really. At 42, I thought my best days were over and done. I can't believe that I feel and look better at almost 50 than I did at 40. If I can do it anyone can. Really.

Anne: Yep. Miss Georgia just can't not be in the spotlight.

Bad exercise experiences can affect a person for life. That's why I brought up the PE thing. Here's this class that they have in school that's there to help people get exercise and see the importance of exercise in your life. But for many people PE is a terrible experience. I used to try to find ways to get out of it any and every chance I got. I hated and loathed it.

Finding something that you like is important, and sticking with it. And for me it was realizing that I'm not going to be defined by some bad experience I had when I was 7 years old.

Diane: It is so wonderful that Susan has brought us together. I am so encouraged by you and to know that I'm not just crazy. I did go through those things; they were real. I really did want to be the perfect mom and the perfect Christian. I tried so hard.

Kristi R. I can't wait to see your success. You go!

Jamie Jo: You are so right. I thought that if I did the perfect things only the perfect things would happen for me and for my children. Learning to love and accept the imperfect me allows me to love imperfect others better. And that's waaayy mor important than being perfect.

Ms. Zoo: Thanks. (blushing) I'm so glad I didn't believe myself when I told myself that I was over the hill and it was all a waste of time. Now I'm here to tell everyone that it is never too late to take good care of yourself.

Susan, don't be discouraged! You are the epitome of aging well. I envy you.

Susan, don't be discouraged!

Reply

Stephanie (Just Me) December 5, 2010 at 4:48 am

You look terrific! Keep those endorphins surging.

Reply

Susan in the Boonies December 3, 2010 at 4:17 am

You're beautiful!

I'm discouraged.

Reply

The Hayes Zoo December 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Jane Fonda scares me. I think it's the leg warmers.

You look *amazing*. Not just for 49 either. Dang…..

I'm going to work at using your checklist as my new coping mechanisms.

Reply

Jamie Jo December 2, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I'm off to read your blog posts from 2009. So glad you have been set free from trying to please others and conform to their expectations. It's crazy how we slip into that mindset, when I'm convinced most people couldn't care less how we spend our time, if they even think of us at all.

Ugh. Jane Fonda brings back memories of sweating. Aerobics are the one kind of exercise I used to do. Now it's just T-Tapp and lots of walking.

Reply

Anne December 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Is that Georgia photobombing you?

When that Jane Fonda video came out I was twelve. We did the workout at a camp I was at. No warm up, no cool down, concrete floors for exercising.

The next day the muscles of my entire young body locked up so hard I could barely move for days.

Bad exercising put me off good exercising.

I'm focusing on just walking now. Just getting up and moving makes me feel better.

Reply

Kristi R. December 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm

You inspire me. I think you look damn good for 49. I'm going to print this picture & keep it inside my WW journal as my goal look. I want to be able to twist like that & not pop/crunch & hurt.

Reply

Diane Barlow December 2, 2010 at 1:33 pm

My journey has been so much like your own Chloe. Sometimes I just shake my head and laugh. My mother died a long horrific death from cancer when I was 24 years old. My heart aches for you girl. While I was raising my perfect kids I did very little to keep myself healthy and also wore the huge clothing to cover up my body. Now that I have realized that no amount of self sacrifice can produce those perfect kids I am working on getting my heart, mind and body back into good shape. I could sure use some encouragement to get back in to a work out routine. I am walking but need to do some other things as well. Your picture is a great inspiration. Thanks and keep it coming please.

Reply

Godsmacked December 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Holy cow, C! You look great! ~tj

Reply

Lincoln and Jenny December 2, 2010 at 8:05 am

Chloe, you are an inspiration to me! Having 4 kids and living overseas keeps me so overwhelmingly busy, and I do feel that taking time to workout is often selfish. Thank you for reminding me that exercise needs to be a priority. I feel so much better physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally when I am working out. I can't afford to not let it be a priority!
Thank you Chloe!
Jenny

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