April 23, 2015

Move It to Lose It

Guest Post By Jan Bono

Crabby is still trying to get her act together after returning from Hong Kong and Bali, waylaid by chores involved packing up for a cross-country relocation.  (And yes, talk about your First World Problems.) So she apologizes for major blog slackitude on her part.  Good thing though that ace contributor Jan Bono has more insights to share about her astounding weight loss journey! Remember you can get her book at Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-Loss Journey” either in print or on Jan's smashwords page. And the apologetic crab hopes to be back next week!--Crabby

I’ve been roughly “at goal weight” now for several years, but I can vividly recall the monumental effort to sign on the dotted line at our local fitness center. At the time, I was still over 350 pounds, and wanted absolutely nothing to do with public exercise.

I mean seriously, what if someone I knew saw me there? What if I heard snickers from other people working out? How could I possibly justify the expense when I was pretty sure I’d never stick with it for the length of a single 3-month contract?

But in my heart of hearts, I knew I needed to attempt toning the muscle hiding in there somewhere as I lost weight. And at long last, I decided to try the gym “in secret,” not telling any friends or family in case it didn’t work out.

That is, until the day my mother called, and forced the truth out of me.

“Finally!” said Mom when I answered the telephone a few weeks after we’d last spoken. “I’ve been trying to reach you for days.”

“Why didn’t you just leave a message on the answering machine?”

“I wanted our conversation to be on my dime.”

“It’s a little more than a dime these days, Mom.”

“Dime a minute with the phone card you gave me,” she said, “so we’ll talk fast. You can start by telling me why I never catch you at home anymore.”

“I’ve been busy.”

“Doing what?”

“Just stuff.”

“Stuff like what?” she persisted.

Normally, I shared most everything with my mother, but this time I’d been holding out on her for nearly a month. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to tell her all about it—I just didn’t know how I’d feel if she pooh-poohed my fitness efforts.

I took a deep breath, then boldly came out with it. “I’ve been going to the gym.”

“You’ve been going out with Jim?” she asked incredulously. “Jim who?”

“I’ve been going to the gym, Mom, not with. To the gym. Gym’s not a who, gym’s a what.”

“Doesn’t he play second base?”

Trust Mom to turn our allegedly brief conversation into a rambling rendition of the old Abbott and Costello baseball comedy routine.

“Exercise more” had been my number one resolution for many years in a row. Not that I hadn’t been exercising. I’d been going to the pool at least twice a week and walking a little whenever the weather permitted.

Tacking “more” onto “exercise” only took four additional keystrokes, yet it made me rethink my fitness regime. What else could I do to hurry myself into a shapelier shape?

The answer was as obvious as the sign along the highway: “End Stress, Feel Happy, Be Healthy!” But actually getting out of the car and going through the door of the fitness center proved almost insurmountable.

I talked myself out of it at least a dozen times. With my medical history and physical limitations, what if there were no exercises I could safely do? What if the equipment wouldn’t accommodate a person my size? What if I was too uncoordinated to complete a thorough workout? What if I totally embarrassed myself? What if I wore the wrong exercise clothes?

My “what if” list of concerns grew longer with each passing day, and I avoided making a commitment to try the gym for several months.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The proprietors of the fitness center, Mike and Sharon, didn’t laugh. They didn’t even wince at my extremely less-than-buff condition. They exchanged no meaningful looks with each other as they signed me up and walked me through a beginning, beginning, beginners’ routine.

I’d been afraid flexing my heretofore underused muscles might prevent me from lifting my toothbrush the next morning, but the fear went unfounded. After only one day’s recuperation, I went back for another crack at the Nautilus instruments of torture.

Again, Mike patiently walked me through the seat adjustments and the weight settings and the number of repetitions and the proper form for using each machine. I felt like such an uncoordinated klutz!

“You didn’t gain all your weight in a couple months,” he stated matter-of-factly. “So don’t be impatient with your results. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Two days after that, I returned for Round Three. Yet again, with Mike hovering at my side, I moved from station to station, beginning with my warm-up, then the larger muscle groups, the smaller muscle groups, and on to my cool down.

Inside my head it began to be a game. I started wondering if I’d get taller by doubling my leg extension reps. I referred to the Hip Abductor as a Hip-Hip Away. The Abominable Abdominal machine dared me to increase the weight on my fifth visit, so I added 10 pounds then and 10 more the next week.

Through the miracle of technology, I discovered six minutes on the glider translated into 25 calories burned. Twenty-five calories is the equivalent of one half an Oreo cookie, or four and a half fat-free pretzel twists.

Settling in at four 45-minute sessions per week, I began to look forward to going to the gym. It must have had something to do with all those endorphins and serotonin and the other “feel good” natural chemicals being released into my bloodstream each time I exerted myself.

“It’s almost scary,” I told Mom. “Deep into middle age, I’ve rediscovered the joy of exercise.”

“What’s scary,” responded Mom, “is picturing my eldest daughter in fluorescent spandex.”

“I don’t wear spandex. This isn’t that kind of place. I haven’t even seen a bona fide yuppie. This gym’s very friendly and comfortable.”

“Which reminds me,” said Mom, her tongue planted firmly in her cheek, “you still haven’t told me much about your comfortable friend Jim.”

“He’s AnyBody’s,” I retorted. “AnyBody’s Gym. Shall I tell him you said ‘Hello’?”

“You be sure to do that,” Mom replied.


  1. Thanks for sharing this story, Jan. Good for you for not letting all those excuses stop you from getting into the gym! By the way, your mother sounds like a lot of fun! :)

    1. My mother was a hoot all right, and I definitely take after her. :-) Thanks for your comment!

  2. Thanks, Jan. The first time is the hardest, isn't it?
    Congratulations on everything you've accomplished! You are an inspiration.

    1. That's my goal these days, Genie... To inspire, encourage, motivate, and let everyone know IT CAN BE DONE. :-) You might want to check out my "Back from Obesity" facebook page for daily support.

  3. Your mother sounds hilarious! A good mom loves her kids so much she wants what's best for them, no matter what. She doesn't shoot down a child's attempts to do and be that best.

    Good for you for getting to the gym and staying there!

    1. Hey Messy, After the gym I joined the POOL!! LOL Started with a swimsuit in 6X. It wasn't pretty, but before too long it literally fell off! MOM bought me the next one!

  4. Love the start of your gym (jim) career!!! Your conversation with your mom made me laugh!!

    1. Yes, Mom was always good at comedic relief. Wished she had lived to see my success. :-) Best Wishes!

  5. Jan,
    Excellent story! Overcoming embarrassment, inventing games to keep motivated, awesome persistence - WOW! And the Mom "who's on first" story... nice bonus!

    At one gym that I was a member of, one day I spontaneously tried something. A quite plus-sized person I hadn't seen before was there, and I thought about how many people (of any size or fitness level) are embarrassed to exercise in front of people. She didn't look overly comfortable, so I decided to give her a friendly greeting. Nothing fancy, just a welcoming smile and hello. I wasn't really sure how she took it. And sadly, after a couple more times I didn't see her there anymore.

    I don't know if I had any effect, and maybe she even thought I was creepy. But I thought it was worth a try, and I've done something similar a few other times with other people, male and female.

    The gym I go to now is pretty nice, not highly friendly, but less idiocy around than many gyms. Fortunately, you do see people of a variety of sizes and levels there, so things are starting to improve.


    1. I think "Size acceptance" is the last stronghold of bigotry... I live for the day that all people will be judged by the quality of their character and not the size of their clothing.. I have a dream... LOL ... But seriously, you can't "hide" weight... You can hide drug addiction, wife beating, compulsive gambling, ad infinitum, but what you look like is always right out there for all to see. I hope I live long enough for people like Jay Leno to stop poking fun at the larger population to get laughs... Or maybe I hope people in general will STOP LAUGHING when he does such idiotic "jokes." ... Oh, I could stay up here on my soap box for a long time... Thanks for writing Dave/Tabby.

  6. That conversation with your mother was hilarious! You had me crackin up!

    Regarding working out, it definitely get's easier once you get into the habbit. It took me quite a while to get into the habbit of going 3 times a week, but it definitely changed my life! :)

  7. My gym (where I haven't been in months because first my shoulder and now my foot have made it too painful) has a wide variety of ages, sizes, and even number of limbs. (Lots of amputees for a place with no physical therapy.) It's very cheap, so you don't get much help from the staff unless you pay for a personal trainer, but it's very friendly. You make me miss it, but my foot woke me up all night, so I'm not ready yet.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  8. Congratulations, its either you start now and regret it later. Stay motivated and keep working hard.

  9. I can totally relate on too much used equipment! I just really love go to gym. I've started having a sweet treat with dinner or other meals. Kind of at the end. Sometimes it's a fruit n yogurt parfait but I like it. It's dessert like. However, It's really helping end the days eating without feeling deprived. It's only been a couple days but so far so good! I'm excited.

  10. Regular exercise is an important way of effective body fitness or weight loss. It is very well to go gym but there are many kinds of natural exercise which you can take without any exercise equipment. So choose such an exercise, which will be very enjoyable for you.


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