I just want to look nice in a prom dress, she said quietly.
Her words squeezed my heart tightly. No. I won’t cry. I will help her.
Gatherings with my side of the family often end in deep conversations about health, weight loss, and exercise. All the women in my family inherited the curse of the apple body type. Not a pear in the bunch. We all carry our extra weight right around our mid sections; the most dangerous place to store fat.
Fat stored around the middle is typically visceral fat. Fat stored around the bottom (in pear-shapes) is typically subcutaneous fat. So stop your complaining fat-bottomed girls. At least you’re less likely to keel over from a heart attack.
According to Harvard Medical School, “Visceral fat has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.”
That both my mother and sister have developed type 2 diabetes, are taking medication for high blood pressure and lead a largely exercise-free life is not lost on me. It should be noted that neither or them is grossly overweight. In fact, my mother is probably only 20 lbs over her ‘ideal’ weight.
At the end of these family gatherings, a chorus of moans from both mom and sis bears witness to the severe lower back pain they feel, following the preparation, serving and cleanup of a big family meal. Checking my tone to avoid any hint of smugness, I try to gently advise that I no longer feel any low back pain since embarking on my 365-day workout plan in 2013. I explain that the stronger my body became, and specifically my core, the more my back issues dissipated, to the point where I have no lower back pain today.
They nod, they agree that there was a clear cause and effect, they applaud my success. But they don’t take action.
And if there is one thing I learned through this process it, it is that you can’t want this for someone else. They have to want it for themselves.
So, when my 17 year old niece said, “I just want to look nice in a prom dress“, I heard that she wanted it for herself. I heard that she had motivation. And a timeline (5 months). What she lacked was a plan.
This is where I come in.
I had signed up for Janathon, but I was fretting over how I would stay on track with every-day exercise in the face of a busy work month. One thing would surely keep me on task: becoming the personal trainer for my niece. Helping her would help me.
On New Year’s Day, I drove over to their place for personal training session #1. First up: a 5k walk, which my sister joined us for, and which ended up being 5.5k much to everyone’s chagrin. Next up, a strength training session focused on lower body: legs, glutes. She was beast, fighting through the pain of reactivating atrophied muscles.
We set a plan, which she’ll have to execute on her own, for the most part, as I’ll be a ‘remote coach’ 90% of the time Every day I email her the workout, along with some motivational words and images, and then check in via text or phone to see how she made out. Being plan-ful about her workouts forces me to be so with my own. Win-win.
And as for my niece, so far, so good. She even announced that she quit Coke. Cold turkey! You know what else she did? She selected her dream prom dress. She keeps it in her journal, for motivation. I couldn’t be more proud.