So the thing isÖ itís the New Year.


Itís time for resolutions and for renewing the unresolved goals of last year.  And here I am again at the same place I am every year: wanting to be different.  Iím reasonably happy with my physical state, but Iíd like to lose a few pounds (In 2002, I lost about 500 pounds.  And gained about 502.) 


So, Iíd like to take my fitness to a new level. The Institute of Medicine released new guidelines for diet and exercise in 2002, recommending that one hour of moderate activity each day is a reasonable amount to maintain weight and health.   Thereís a loophole, though,  --itís cumulative throughout the day, so stair climbing, walking, swimming, lawn mowing, and other activities add up.




Iíve spent most of the year working out but Iíve fallen off the wagon a little bit since I was sick the entire month of November and itís not so easy to steal the time now that Jane has hit the Terrible Twos. (Every time I hear someone call it the ďTERRIFIC Twos!Ē I want to hand them Jane in the midst of a tantrum and let her just bash the heck out of them. But I digress.) 


So, letís see, an hour a day means doing it before the kids get up Ėwhich I do three times a week (she says smugly) when I run behind (okay, not so smugly) my neighborís running group.  Going that early has its advantages because itís still dark and I either have to keep up or fall victim to some early-rising, fitness-conscious mugger.  Anyway, by nine oíclock (morning or night, you decide,) I am asleep on my feet.  I guess I could try to do it after the kids go to bed at night Ė but realistically, itís not going to happen.   Iím always so tired by the time the kids go to bed that just sipping a glass of wine makes me sweat. 


Still, Iím in the best shape of my life.  If you like triangles.


So, I was thinking about the impending New Year one morning and I decided to just pull on a pair of running shorts and a jogging bra and get right on the treadmill.  Only, first I had to get the kids up and dressed and fed and into the car so we could take Ana to school.  Thatís gotta burn some calories, right?  All that tear-wiping and trying to pack sixteen stuffed animals into one tiny backpack.  Not to mention corralling everyone out the door and into the car and then dashing back inside again to brush my teeth.  And then, dashing BACK to retrieve a lost blankie.  I mean, thatís strenuous stuff.


At Anaís school, I had to wrestle Jane out of the classroom and into her car seat.  Jane has decided that the car seat represents The Man Always Trying to Keep Her Down and she refuses to be buckled in without a fierce struggle.  I have perfected a technique that requires me to balance on one leg, press a knee into her chest while reaching blindly for the straps (I have to throw my head back to get out of range) as Jane flails about.   Itís hard work trying to avoid getting kicked in the head.  I was sweating.


So, then I drove Jane back home to start our Quality Time while Ana was in school.  It was raining out, which made it particularly treacherous when I had to race the twenty-five yards down our driveway to keep Jane from running into the street.  Does that count as exercise?  More wrestling ensued -óhard to assess net calories expended, though, since I drank one of those double-shot Starbuckís espresso cans as soon as I got in the house.  (Scary to think how many of those Iíd consume if it wouldnít require a second mortgage.)


Once inside, I set up some finger painting for Jane.  We do this by spreading big sheets of butcher paper in the kitchen and then Jane totally ignores them in an effort to paint the cabinets before I can stop her.  My favorite move is where she gets really excited and flings her hands about, madly splattering paint in places I wonít find for six months.  Also very popular: the Walk Through the Paint maneuver. 


After painting, I spread out some towels and put a large bucket of soapy water in the center of them.  Jane climbed in, repeated everything she did with the paint and in addition, managed to sling an entire pitcher of water on the dog.  The dog shook water all over the kitchen (which caused the paint to run) and then flopped down in several places, like a really stinky, hairy sponge.


At this point, my workout became anaerobic Ėwhich, as my husband continues to tell me, is not the best way to build a fitness base. I threw the dog outside, which wasnít too hard since she was eager to go get that soap smell off by rolling in the mud.  Then I raced to get Jane dried off, diapered AND wearing pants, since she is lightening-fast at removing her diaper in time to pee on the carpet.  I bribed her with a Barney video and moving as quickly as I could without slipping and falling, gathered all the towels and used the least wet of the lot to wash down the cabinets.  Jane appeared and tried to run to me, slipped in what seemed like slow motion so that I had plenty of time to throw myself forward and land between her and the tile.  She screamed at me for hindering her progress.  I felt like my heart stopped entirely but maybe it was just that old heart murmur making a reappearance.  How many calories do you think are expended in an effort to NOT hyperventilate?


To review: During our Normal Morning Routine, I expended at least 600 calories and took in about 7,015 in the form of canned espresso, power bars and the occasional bite of green bean dipped in ketchup. 


Okay, so maybe the problem isnít getting enough EXERCISE, itís managing my INTAKE.  Hereís a novel idea Ėsuppose I eat the way I ask my kids to eat?  Uh oh.  I donít ask them to eat things I hate or anything, but I ask them to treat their bodies with much more respect than I treat my own.  And MY body doesnít exactly have the resilience of youth that theirs does!


Whole grain bread, brown rice, lean chicken, fresh steamed vegetables at every meal.  No in-between meal snacks unless itís fruit or dry Cheerios and absolutely no Bad Vitamin Food until youíve eaten your lunch. Two small pieces of chocolate or candy per day and not one bit more, no matter how much begging goes on.  No eating when the television is on (well, unless youíre really cranky after a nap and need a blood sugar adjustment right when Mommy is about to go SMACK out of her mind.)  No caffeine or (gulp) alcohol; no soft drinks.  One astronaut-shaped multi-vitamin every morning. 


I donít think I can do it, frankly. 


Well, thatís not true.  I could certainly do it and I would benefit from it but it just wouldnít be any FUN.  Letís face it, part of the fun in life comes from fun foods and theyíre not always healthy and steamed and organic.




Well, I guess that explains mealtime at our house.


I think maybe Iíll just make a New Yearís resolution to get more sleep.   




(c) Barbara Cooper 2003


Barbara Cooper is the mother of Ana (4.75) and Smiley Jane (2).  She lives in Austin, Texas and calls her new permissive eating plan for children ďThe Cheetos Strategy.Ē