How to have a skinny summer: the 38 year old woman/mother of 2 version

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First: Make sure that you are 38. Are you 37? It doesn't really matter.

I. Find an exercise program

a. Run every other day: 3, then 2, then 1 miles.

b. On the other days, do Bikini Body.

c. Take one day off per weekend.

i. It's really not that bad. It's never more than 30 minutes per day. After awhile you think, "I'm kind of good at this," powering through burpees and humid runs, feeling your hip muscles connecting to your abs and legs.

ii. Do it first thing in the morning, by which I mean after the boys are in school but before you have to get actual work done. Any later and it gets tremendously harder.

d. Buy yourself a sports bra that actually fits because whatever is going on with your breasts is unclear and needs to be addressed.

II. Have two small children and a house with stairs.

a. It's a cliché but it's true--you do spend a lot of time not so much chasing after your children but serving them. Getting milk, getting water, getting markers and paper and stickers and more milk.

b. Get a Fitbit so you can track these movements so you have a little electronic ping that puts a number and little congratulations for each time you hit 10,000 steps.

III. Eat 1800 calories per day or less. Track it on an app if possible.

a. Figure this out after some experimentation of how many calories per day it takes to lose weight but also keeps you from murdering people in a hangry rage.

i. 1800 is not that bad. The other night I had two glasses of wine and a piece of yellow cake with chocolate icing from the grocery store (and they were all exactly what I wanted.)

ii. Skipping breakfast is not the end of the world. You feel kind of crazy around 10:30 AM but you're not a small child who needs breakfast in order to get through schoolwork. But you do feel a bit like you're transgressing somehow. But I would rather have an extra glass of wine in the evening than a dumb cup of yogurt in the morning.

b. Cease making meals for your family. It takes too much effort and is too hard to track, calorie-wise.

i. Amy's and Trader Joe's make frozen meals that are easy to plug into your Fitbit app and are tasty and filling enough to make you not want to die.

ii. Find a vegetable you like to eat a lot of to go along with the frozen meals. Ina Garten makes a delicious buttermilk ranch dressing and an herb dip that is to die for. Gazpacho and borsht are good, too.

iii. Get over feeling weird about having a separate meal from your family. If you live with 3 men they will not notice.

c. No need to be obsessive every single day. If there is a pool party happening, let it go and eat a lot of pizza and drink a lot of wine. Get back to it the next day.

IV. Realize that you are thin for a middle-aged version of yourself.

a. Cellulite will not go away. Your stomach still resembles that of someone who has lost a lot of weight several times and has housed two people.

b. Nobody besides your friends will notice. Nobody at the beach or on the street or anything like that will give you any sort of feedback that indicates you look more acceptable than the average human. You are not going to the Oscars, for god's sake.

V. Figure out how to respond when people note that you look thin.

a. Be self-deprecating and acknowledge that this will not last forever.

b. Realize that the first time they met you you probably were only just a few weeks postpartum so they probably remember you were at your flabbiest and tiredest.

VI. Realize this will not last forever.

a. Winter will come; you will not want to run outside every day.

b. The novelty of your workout program will not last.

c. You will get tired of tracking calories and peter out.

d. School is coming and you will want to eat dinner as a family and bowls of chili with cheese and tortilla chips and sour cream are delicious and you've been promising yourself that you're going to the junk you've been putting off and it's important to keep promises.

VII. Wonder what it's all about.

a. Have a friend die.

b. Have a really quiet summer, work-wise.

c. Be lonely at home while also not wanting to go anywhere in particular. 

d. Have a lot of friends experience professional success while you are on your thinness journey.

e. Wonder if this is just a little hobby you've invented for yourself to pass the time.

f. Acknowledge that you will eventually be bigger and that work may or may not become more fulfilling and intense. You may become bigger with nothing to show for it. You will become bigger, period. And nobody but you will probably notice.

VIII. Eat some cake and write.