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  • jdettmann

Save The Horses

In about three weeks we are going on a Big Trip. We’re heading to the USA to see my side of the family, and spend a week on a beautiful ranch on the border of Colorado and New Mexico, then stopping for a few days in Hawaii on the way home. We’re very lucky and very excited. We’ve been booking and planning and discussing for ages, and this week H and I began the most important part: a twenty-four day fitness and diet kick. We’ve realised that although we are truly fine specimens of man and womanhood, there’s just a bit more to us at the moment than we’d like, in an ideal world, and we’re a bit wary of being the two people at the ranch who need a crane and a winch to be loaded onto our mounts. And we don’t really want to turn up and see the wranglers’ eyes widen in horror before they lead away our svelte stallions, Dazzle and Spry, who could easily outrun a bear, and lead out two solid old draughthorses named Ironsides and Sherman Grizzlysnack.

To this end, we have employed the time-honoured parenting practice of a rewards chart. It is called ‘Operation No Brokeback Mounts’ and it lives on the side of our fridge. It has 24 dates down the vertical axis, because that’s all the time we have left, and four columns on the horizontal. Every day, it is possible to achieve four stamps: for eating well, drinking enough water, not drinking any hooch, and doing exercise. H’s stamp is a picture of a rhino and mine is an elephant. The reward for getting lots of stamps is renewed health and vitality and eating all the reuben sandwiches, waffles and chile rellenos we can lay our hands on in America. (This could also be called Operation Short-Term Thinking, or Operation Do Some Good Work So We Have Something To Undo.)

I’ve been through phases in my life where I’ve been pretty fit, but I’m not in one now, and haven’t been since having kids. I’d really like to be strong and slim and fit, both to set a good example for my kids, to try to live a bit longer, and to be able to wear my nice old clothes. I’ve had a few false starts at creating an exercise habit over the last few years, including when I went to the gym and had to be rescued by my dad and when I went to a new gym and thought I was going to die but it turned out I was coming down with gastro. I’ve dabbled in Zumba and jogging and lap swimming. I get very excited about something, do it twice, and then get sore and tired and quit. So lame.

This time, it might be different or it might not. I’m not kidding myself. This enthusiasm for healthy living could very well all peter out by tomorrow. But I am doing a few things differently. I’m using an app on my phone called My Fitness Pal to keep an eye on my energy intake versus output. It’s quite fun and a bit shocking, but has already had the positive effect of stopping me behaving like a human compost tumbler and eating all the kids’ leftovers. I’ve dragged out and used my old fitness DVD (yes, I only have one), The 30 Day Shred, hosted by a woman May Blossom used to refer to as ‘that man Gillian’. She’s pretty tough but I rather like her style.

Most importantly though, I’ve bough a pair of very expensive exercise tights. Until Monday, I was exercising in my best leggings, which were from Kmart and cost $12. They are a bit see-through. They don’t have any support around the tummy area, which meant that when I jumped up and down or jogged or did anything else that might increase my heartrate, there was an uncomfortable and embarrassing amount of wobbling up and down of tummy. Horrible. I avoided such activities where possible, which just made the wobble worse.

On a whim, I went into a shop called Lorna Jane. I’ve avoided this shop for the very scientific and rational reason that the only Lorna I’ve ever encountered was the teachers’ aide at my primary school, and why would I buy fitness gear from a place that reminded me of an old lady who smelled like stencil ink and used to send me back to class when all I wanted, like any normal eight-year-old, was to have a lie down on the cane chaise longue that constituted the sick bay and read a book for a couple of hours? Lorna Jane shops, as it turn out, are nothing like Lorna the teachers’ aide. It was staffed by nice ladies who knew a lot about the products they were selling but had enough of a sense of humour to realise most of it is marketing bullshit. I tried on some fancy black tights with mesh panels on the calves, in case your calves need to breathe or see the view behind you or something, I guess. I tried some compression tights, which squoze everything from my waist down in very tightly, like a chorizo, in order to help my muscles ‘recover more quickly’ or some such rubbish. One pair of tights was basically a sports bra for your arse, and hauled your buttocks up out of harms’ way, so they don’t get trodden on by the slower runners, and another pair did that for your tummy. That was the pair I bought. They cost a stupid amount of money for a pair of tights, and they are worth every penny. I say that because I have exercised three days in a row, which is UNHEARD OF for me. I even jogged for an entire kilometre, which is something I have never done in my life. (Part of that was the tights, and part was the fact that I’d forgotten my headphones so I was running on the treadmill while watching a rerun of ‘Party of Five’ with closed captions. I became captivated by a scene where Neve Campbell’s character got angry at her little sister for stealing her plaid shirt and her Shawn Colvin CD — maybe the most 1990s scene ever).

These tights, these magical, confidence-boosting tights, have unlocked a secret world for me. I’ve realised that all these women I see around my suburb, who have little kids too and look as knackered as me in the face, they have known the secret for a while and are all wearing magic tights. They don’t have perfectly flat tummies and whittled waists, they are just wearing pants that are the clothing equivalent of those vacuum bags that make your winter doona the size of a handkerchief so you can store it under the bed. And I’ll thank anyone whose ever listened to me rant about how leggings are not pants and how they should not be worn out and about to hold their tongue. These are not leggings. These are magic tights. And just think how happy the horses will be. We’re doing it for the horses.

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