Friday, August 5, 2016

Why I Love My Workout Lady

Despite my relative flubbiness, I do actually get a sweat on fairly regularly. I go for long walks a lot, and I do a series of workout tapes. (Yes, fine, DVDs, I can't seem to stop calling them "tapes" even though that's long gone.)

My favorites are by Ellen Barrett. She started at Crunch (that's where one of my favorites, "Super Slim Down" was filmed) and then started her very own studio. She does a lot of pilates/yoga blends sometimes with dance added in, and calls what she does "fusion fitness."

I love her so much.

Despite having titles like "Super Slim Down" and "Skinny Sculpt," her focus is NOT on being as skinny as you can be. She looks like a normal person (albeit a fitness instructor normal person). She focuses a lot on functional fitness, which to her is "having my comfort level be as wide as possible." She aims for long, lean, strong, stretched bodies, but also has modified versions of everything. Even without the modified versions, these workouts don't stress my knees, which is lovely.

Her tapes (argh! DVDs!) are anywhere from 30-45 minutes, and the 30-minute ones are fairly recent, probably spawned from all the Beach Body ones that are 25 minutes or 30 minutes and have an intense workout in a shorter time to appeal to people's busy lives. I only have one of her 30 minute workouts, which is a standing weights thing, and I think I might get another. I love all the lunges and squats and plies, standing work and matwork, sometimes weights and sometimes just body weight training, and the bongos that make up the background music of "Fat Burning Pilates." The bongos crack me up, but they are a nice change from other motivational fitness music choices.

My collection...I love them all but have to laugh during the Yogini Workout because there are some things that maybe I could do sometime in the future if I did it a lot, but most of the time I just crack up and say, "Really, Ellen?" until the next move.

The cat wants to help.

No, this is not one big commercial for Ellen Barrett (even though it might seem that way). I just really love her fitness philosophy. I love that she doesn't yell at me to lose poundage or fit into a smaller size. I love her encouraging, inspiring vibe. She just wants me to be fit, and to "visualize my body from the inside out" at the end of workouts. I love that she's totally geeky and cracks herself up. I love that she makes mistakes every once in a while and doesn't edit them out, doesn't give the illusion of perfection because perfection doesn't exist.

I get all red and disgustingly sweaty when I do these, and I do see results fairly quickly when I do them with regularity. My arms get stronger. My legs more defined. I feel good about my body for a good while afterwards.

I just don't lose a bunch of weight anymore, because, well, I'm 40 and I'm also not willing to drastically cut my diet. I eat reasonably well, but also have Mexican food every Friday, live with someone who loves to bake me gluten free pies on the regular, adore Indian and Thai food, and love butter. Oh, and wine. I eat a boatload of fruits and love when you can get fresh veggies from the farm stands. I do try for reasonable portion sizes despite the deliciousness that I put into my body. But, I probably will never be a skinny person.

I can be a fit person, though, even though it doesn't necessarily look that way thanks to help from PCOS (and my aversion to dieting). This is an aspect of infertility that will haunt me forever. PCOS doesn't stop being a problem when your reproductive quest ends. It's a lifelong condition that makes it really hard to maintain and lose weight (along with other lovely side effects and increased risk for heart attack and stroke, hip hip hooray). It can be very frustrating to put a lot of physical effort in and then realize that the progress made is so much slower (thank you also, middle aged metabolism). It's also incredibly annoying when people assume I don't exercise.

But, I can do something positive for my body, whatever it looks like, and learn to love it as is. To make it stronger and not worry about the socially-driven shape that I cannot achieve. I can do my DVDs and go for walks and aim for that functional fitness that Ellen Barrett preaches. I can be strong and flexible and do my best to be comfortable in the skin I'm in, and that's a beautiful thing.


  1. I absolutely love this post. I love the humor you inject into this topic, because body image can really make one feel like crap about ones self.
    I am also someone who will never be skinny. I'm also short, so extra weight doesn't hide as well on me as someone who is tall(er). And I struggle with body image SO much.
    I'm like you in that I'm not too willing to alter my diet to be skinny. Life is too damn short to be hungry or to not eat deliciously "bad" food.
    I don't enjoy working out. But I do have some DVDs I really like. Leslie Sansone has an entire Walk series that is really my speed and are all around 30 minutes. I can't get into anything longer. I have also diene the beach body 21 day fix series more recently. It was more strenuous and I still can not do some moves with the modifier, but they help me feel strong when I do them consistently. I am aiming for functional fitness as well. I'll never be a superstar athlete or a skinny, starving model and I'm okay with that too. So glad I am not alone!! It feels good to be in your company😀😀😀

  2. Yes! I love your attitude about this! It doesn't make sense to starve yourself or deprive yourself of what you love just to fit society's mold! If you are healthy and happy, that's what matters most! Body image is such a negative subject most of the time. I'm glad to hear your positive spin on it!

  3. Such a postive, uplifting post. Thank you.