I have never considered myself an "exercising" sort of person. Perhaps it's due to the prejudice of my upbringing: memories of my private high school include the principal intoning, "Christians work: pagans exercise!" So I've always tried to make my work my exercise: unfortunately, most of my work these days requires sitting at the computer, and the "fasting" diets I used to follow no longer work now that I'm approaching my fortieth birthday and my seventh pregnancy.
So I am hesitantly about to try to make a change: I am commencing the 12-week Body For Life diet, in an effort to get into shape (I am of course, modifying it to account for the pregnancy). In a way this is nothing new: being a home-birth veteran, I'm used to a different diet during pregnancy: all my midwives enforced one. The difference is counting calories, rigorously drinking water, and (sigh) exercising. As of this writing, I can say I have been taking morning walks on our country roads for about a week and a half now, and can actually do about a mile or two without breaks.
Although I cringe at the "workout" culture, with the necessary ugliness of water bottles (I'm toting one now, and wishing it were beautiful), there is a certain beauty in the plan of a diet and exercise regime. Unlike the stereotypical free spirit, plans for life fascinate me. I'm not afraid of being put into a box: boxes have always seemed to be wonderful things, like the cardboard ones my children cut holes in and make into houses, cars, robots, anything their imaginations can dream up. The highest forms of art are the seemingly effortless formation of patterns: sonnets, Golden Rectangles, symphonies. So although I dread gyms, I read with absorption the day-by-day dietary instructions and routines and wonder if the sprawling chaotic monster of my daily life could be harnessed, gentled, and run eagerly ahead with the help of schedules and patterns like these.
Alas. We can always try. "Fail to plan and you plan to fail," intones this book, so I made a plan, a grocery list, bought multivitamins, protein-rich foods, and a tolerable-looking water bottle. I admit I do like diet foods, what this book lovingly calls, "women foods": spinach, cheese, almonds, brown rice, hummus, herbal teas, beans, seafood, chicken breast, even tofu. They look like food (except tofu, which I admire as a Master of Disguise: seasonings can turn it into anything!). And since my default mode is: skip breakfast, skip lunch, eat a vast amount of dinner and dessert; it's nice to eat six meals a day like a hobbit. (Next meal: pasta, eggplant tapenade, imitation crab meat, and salad. Yum!)
I remember having a vision once (after dreamily reading too many idealistic books) of distributism, whole foods, Craftsman philosophy, the Montessori method, rural living, and Catholicism all merging together into a beautiful and harmonious way of life that Thomistically, encompassed all and made everything lovely. I smile now when I think that I could accomplish such a synthesis. But how nice it is to plan!
So I am planning, and trying. Fortunately this book urges striving for "80% of perfection," so maybe it's doable even for me, a sanguine who loves new things but whose stamina and attention span are ... not as great.
But then again, I did walk a mile today without a break. So maybe there's hope!
Wish me Godspeed!