It’s a new year, and I’ve already lied. You’ll never have the perfect body. Even if you Googled “perfect body” and every returned image was you, you’d still find that one little thing to nitpick… “Well, they obviously didn’t see that my nail beds are different shapes! My index finger looks like an oversized hand fan while my pinky, oh my glorious pinky is so nice and long… why can’t every finger look like my pinky!”
We are all our own worst critics. Some more than others. I would put myself in the ‘some’ column, stupid index finger. Amazingly though, I have found something that has changed the way I view my body — something affordable, low commitment, and sustainable — The Under 20 Workout. It is the perfect piece to fit in the no-time-for-workout-no-money-for-gym-don’t-like-my-body puzzle that so many of us live in.
I’ll tell you my story, but honestly, you probably don’t have time to read it. So feel free to skip on down to why it works. Oh, and I’m not a sales person. I don’t get anything for this; this is just a good old-fashioned pro bono plug for something I truly believe in and want to share with others.
I had my first, and only, daughter in November of 2014. I’m an actor living in Los Angeles, and despite working in an industry that is hyper-critical and hyper-dependent on looks, I went to town when I was pregnant, gaining 60 pounds. I liked aspects of being pregnant, but I sort of had pre-partum depression when it came to my looks and weight. I have always been fairly athletic and in shape, so having little control over my “blossoming” face (yes, my OB told me I had “blossomed” and yes I cried) made me feel like I had no control over my life and my career.
I had read all those mommy blogs telling me to give myself a year… “it took a year to put it on; it’ll take a year to get it off” (*said in over-confident, know-it-all, wimpy, stupid blog voice*). “Ha! No way,” said my pregnant, childless self. I was going to be back in shape in no time! SPOILER ALERT! I wasn’t.
After I had recovered from birth and woke up from the 4th trimester haze, I tried to do some online workouts, but I couldn’t successfully commit. I didn’t have the money to take yoga or pilates classes or even join a gym, and let’s be honest, I didn’t have the time. In Los Angeles, driving two miles to yoga could be two hours. (That’s kind of an exaggeration, but it’s kind of not.) Also, babies are, you know, needy and stuff.
Fast-forward a year postpartum, and I was still at least 15 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. I have always been hyper-critical of my body, and this was certainly a low. None of my clothes fit; I felt squishy and weak. My ‘bad’ knee and my ‘good’ knee hurt all the time. I was so so sad about my body, and I literally didn’t know what to do to fix it.
Then, I got lucky. A friend posted about The Under 20 Workout on Facebook. They were having a Black Friday sale: $97 for a year’s access to workouts you could do at your home that were all under 20 minutes! Jackpot! I was desperate to change and for less than $2 a week, I could afford to try this.
It worked for five reasons.
1. The workouts really are 20 minutes. On days I didn’t want to work out, I could tell myself, “It’s just 20 minutes. I can do 20 minutes.” I’m not gonna lie; that’s all I gave about 80% of the time. I didn’t shower after (high-fives from some stinky moms out there) or stretch before. I gave it 20 minutes.
2. I had a workout accountability buddy. My friend Jen signed up at the same time. We have texted each other daily for a year, just to check in on our workouts and to encourage each other — a simple “I did it” or “I skipped today. Wasn’t happening.” We felt responsible to each other to keep going, and we whole-heartedly celebrated each other’s successes.
3. The workouts start slow. Anyone can do them if you have a 6X6 foot space and a towel. That’s literally all you need… well, a dash of desperation helps too.
4. I took pictures and stopped weighing myself. Justin, the creator, often says that you’re more than just a number on a scale. He’s right. About nine months in, I was getting very discouraged because the scale just wasn’t moving. So I took my first set of “after” pictures. I was SHOCKED. I couldn’t believe how different I looked while weighing the same! The mirror and scale had been lying to me, but side-by-side before and after pictures don’t lie.
5. The workouts are fun. Justin is a wholly likable, very real, relatable, sometimes goofy, ultra-encouraging trainer. His workouts are unique to him with moves like “zombie swims,” “Tommy Lees,” and “lemonade pours.” I’ve watched him at least three times a week for a year, and I’m not sick of him yet.
So now, I can fit into most of my pre-pregnancy pants, but more importantly, when I look in the mirror, if the mirror lies to me, I have the ammo to fight back. I know how strong I am. I can do real push-ups now, something I couldn’t even do in high school when I ran track and spent my summers laying out miles of irrigation pipe! (Google it; flood irrigation farming is no joke!) I know how healthy I am because I can carry my two-year-old around a shopping mall for an hour and not lose my breath. I know I’m investing in my future because I can squat down without worrying anymore that my knees will give out.
No, I’m not the smallest I’ve ever been or the fastest, but I’m not a high school sophomore anymore either. I still have body goals and the journey continues, but I’m proud of where I am. I’m proud that I made a baby. Pause. I made a baby! And I’m proud that I fought hard to get to a place where most of the time I do have the perfect body. The perfect body for me, for right now, except those darn fingernails!
Check out The Under 20 Workout at http://www.under20workout.com.
I know my before and after pictures aren’t as dramatic as some, but they’re honest and real. So real that I never intended to share them, but here they are dirty hair/hairy legs and all!
40 hours postpartum.
1 year postpartum; 1 year nine months; 2 years
2 years - ARMS!