Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reflection on an Awesome Day: No Excuses

my sister, the trooper after early morning Pump

Today was awesome. My younger sister came to town from L.A. for her birthday and--get this--actually allowed me to drag her to my (as she calls it) "crickety crack o' dawn" Body Pump class. (Happy Birthday, sis. . tee hee hee.)


My sister, JoLai, has never been a "skinny girl." She has always had curves, going back as far as I can (sometimes painfully) remember. Okay, so enough time has passed for me to admit that my intense jealousy of the aforementioned curves was the source of some serious passive-aggressive "hateration" on my part back in the day.

For starters, JoLai is 10 months younger than me (yeah, yeah, 10 months is a narrow interval, we know, we know. . . .) Anyways, when her body got the memo to go into puberty like two years before mine, somehow my stick figure missed that memo and stayed painfully trapped in an African-american version of Olive Oyl. (Case in point: My uncle Woody gave me the nickname "Blade" back then, as in--uggghh-- a blade of grass. . but okay, I digress. . . .)

JoLai would nicely ask me to borrow my shirts in middle school which makes sense considering we are separated by less than one year, right? Ha. Too bad-- I'd promptly shut her down, insisting that I didn't want people to think we wore the same clothes, knowing all along that it was because, unlike her older sister, she actually needed that brassiere Mom bought each of us over the summer. (You kidding me? No way I was going to draw attention to the full house she'd been dealt while trying to overcome the inadequacies of my own low number pair from the same deck.)

In her adulthood, JoLai's had a few health problems and has also experienced some fluctuations in her weight. But that was then. I remember it like it was yesterday. She called me up one day and said, "I refuse to be unhealthy, and I refuse--do you hear me? REFUSE to be fat." And that was that.

Anyone who knows her will tell you: The girl has declared war. And not in that crazy-lose-50 lbs-by-next-week-way, but in a logical, consistent, sustained way. Yesterday, when I saw her in her gym clothes, I patted her flatter-than-mine tummy and said, "Girl, you wearing a Spanx?" She smiled and told me in the nicest way possible, "Hell no." The hateration did threaten to return, but frolicking into Pump with her this morning and enduring miserable lunges beside her made it go away.

In addition to the overall novelty of having my sister working out with me in my favorite class, there was an added highlight: I got to introduce my sister to one of my favorite people and inspirations in my Pump class--my friend Charles.

Charles in class celebrating his 75th birthday
(a GREAT sport for letting us put a tiara and sash on him!)


Okay, let me tell you about Charles. First of all, he's a 75 year old granddad who throws down in Body Pump like he is 35. No, take that back, 25. If you are under the age of 75 and never get up off of the couch because :

a) something hurts now that you are older,

b.) you are feeling kind of crotchety now that you are older or

c.) you are finally retired/off for the weekend and you ain't exercisin'/empty nesters/just had a baby/just had another baby/had a baby a long ago but, dammit, you look good to have two kids/busy with your kids/busy with your business/just got your hair done/just got married/just got divorced/just not a morning person/just not an evening person/"walk a lot" when you are at work (yeah right)/are naturally skinny/are naturally big boned-ed/are doing weight watchers/are gonna start Monday/are gonna really start Monday/are full of you know what, or

d.) all of the above. . .

I assure you that meeting my friend Charles will officially make you ashamed of yourself. Oh yeah, let me add that he lost over 100 lbs, like, a long, long time ago and has kept it off for more than a decade through a disciplined vegan (whew!) diet and regular exercise. (Yeah, I said 100+ pounds, you read that right.) One. Hundred. Plus.

What also makes Charles so cool is that he is really funny, but never crude, and even more than that, he's been married a long, long time and loves his wife (How do I know this? Because he speaks of her by her name which, I have come to learn from working at Grady and living almost 40 years, is actually a very loving gesture vs. "the wife," or "the ol' ball and chain" or. . .you get the picture.) Where was I? Oh, Charles. He knows the name of every person who has come to our class more than once, and warmly greets them by name even if it surprises the bejangles out of them that he remembers. He groans like really loud at all the right parts in class that every one else wants to but doesn't (like during scary repeater "bottom-half" squats, horrid slow push ups, and dreadfully dreadful side planks.) Best of all, he reminds me that a big part of my health and well being (as well as that of my patients) sits squarely in our own hands. For that reason more than any other, every time I see him, I feel inspired.


Today, I am reflecting on two people that regularly inspire me to take charge of my health and appreciate my body for what it can do. It was nice to see these two healthy parallels intersect this morning. Whenever I'm feeling like I don't want to exercise or pay attention to what I'm eating, they serve as constant reminders that I should stop bellyaching and just do what I have to do. And when I sit across from a patient who really needs to lose, like, 100+ pounds, and who really is motivated to do something about it, I think, "You actually can lose that much weight," instead of "No, you can't." JoLai and Charles, you both personify the mantra: "No excuses."

JoLai, thanks for demonstrating to me and all who know you the power of the human spirit. And Charles, thank you for inspiring me and a whole lot of other folks to be healthier--even if it is at the crickety-crack o' dawn.

Now. . . .what's YOUR excuse?


  1. OK if Jolai and Charles can do it, so can we. What happened to our Monday weigh-ins :)?

  2. It is so ironic that you wrote this, because I found a few excuses in "option c" that I have been making for the last month...just pitiful is all. Now I have to really do something, or I am going to think about this blog everytime I try to make an excuse.

  3. Yeah, Raichelle, that option c steps on all of our toes! Michelle, just say the word for our "Monday" weigh-ins. . . .

    Turning 40 in a few weeks, so excuses become clothes that don't fit! Arrggghh!

  4. Awwww! I feel SUPER SPECIAL right now! Thanks for this. Your post about me inspiring you has actually inspired me to go workout with Claudine right now (even though I'm dead dog tired from my flight!) It's just an hour... I can crash out after I finish. Thanks for being a great sis & inspiration... I can't have you looking too much better than me when I turn 40 next year... ha ha ha! Love you, Miz!!!

    JoLai... the chick that's running out of the door to voluntarily be beat down by my trainer... and loving every minute of it!

  5. Update: Was on my way out the door & remembered something that I needed to take care of. So no workout with Claudine tonight. Instead, I'm going to do my 30 minute interval workout I do sometimes. Set the stopwatch on your phone. Do 2 minutes of cardio (jogging in place, high knees, half-jacks, anything that will make your heart beat fast)... then do 2 minutes of strength (squats, dumbbell curls, push ups, triceps kickbacks, whatever works the muscles)... switch between cardio & strength every two minutes for 30 minutes. Then do 10 minutes of nonstop abs followed by a good stretch! One thing I love about this workout is that I can do it while watching my favorite TV show :-)

  6. Enjoyed meeting your sister at Body Pump, and nice comments on our inspirational friend, Charles. I've seen him in 6 a.m. Body Pump for almost 10 years! Love the blog.

  7. From the deck of the Poop,

    Old post but just what I needed to get my old butt back in gear.


  8. I love this post. It's great to get a glimpse of your family and how they inspire you. How do you pronounce your sister's name? I hear it when I am reading like the month, July.


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