My Miracle Fitness Fix (The First of Many)

Learning the hard way that exercise and nutrition are what <em>really</em> works

I was a high school freshman in 1978, the year that Saturday Night was having a Fever. If you were not already dancing, well, the Bee Gees made it clear, “You should be…” And so it was that I learned The Bus Stop and began preparations for Teen Night at a discotheque in the hip hotbed of Bridgewater, NJ. As I write this, I realize the absurdity of this for the first time. In retrospect, this ho-um suburban bar was attempting to reinvent itself by attracting hormonal high-school hustlers with a dangling disco ball. Reality notwithstanding, I was about to create a similarly impossible transformation, Cinderella-style, and turn this plain yellow pumpkin into a golden carriage.

First, I purchased QT, a magic potion that promised to produce a golden tan while I was doing other stuff. This was a real bonus because tanning in the yard with my mirror reflector was limited to weekends and had the unfortunate side effect of third degree burns. I slathered on the omnipotent ointment and went to school anticipating my amazing development like a dark room photo. It was not until social studies class when my best friend passed me a note that said something like “You have orange stripes on your arm”, that I realized the extent of my Technicolor results. This was not a shade found in nature, perhaps only in a Special Edition Crayola 64 pack with Oompa Loompa Orange. But with my seafoam colored dress, I thought it’d be okay. I mean, if the color scheme was good enough for Howard Johnson’s, it was clearly chic, right?

With my hue established, I proceeded to the next critical phase of my transformation. According to the magazines, I was completely misshapen; too small on top, too big on the bottom. Fashion experts called me a Pear and provided a great deal of advice to rectify or at least hide my misfortunate fruit form. I was into my 5th day on the General Motors Diet, which involved eating beef for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as I flipped through Teen magazine in search of an A-line skirt to camouflage my Anjou Ass, when I saw this ad:

Oh, sweet Mother of Magical Thinking!

The ad promised a reduction of 9-15 inches in just 3 days simply by attaching these special vacuum pants to your mama’s Hoover. I did not concern myself with science of any kind, or where exactly I had 15” of my 14-year-old self to lose. This was the solution to my Bartlett Butt! But there was a problem. This wondrous shrinkolator cost $9.99. What’s worse, it used to cost $14.99, and now, special for me, 30% off! But even if I counted up all the change in my mother’s winter coat, and under the couch cushions, AND in the Junk Drawer, I was still short $7.43. And I’d already used up all my babysitting money for the Knock-Knock-Who’s-There-Orange-Orange-You-Glad-You-Wasted-Your-Money-On-QT lotion.

It was at that moment that I believe I developed my extraordinary adaptive skills. I grabbed a garbage bag and hauled the Hoover to my bedroom. “So simple, and yet, genius!” I thought as I jammed my feet through the bottom of the Hefty Pants and innovatively secured them around my waist with a thick (and stylish) elastic belt. I pushed the hose of the vacuum through an area near my thigh, gave it a little once over with duct tape, and flipped the switch.

I will tell you what happened next, but I think you can imagine just fine. I sat there, a bag of vacuumed sealed nuts, fantasizing about how my soon-to-be carrot stick legs would look in my new “buffalo” platforms. Unfortunately, my extraordinary engineering produced nothing more than a Hoover hickey on my yammy thigh.

Oh, how I wish this story had a better ending. But I confess, I am a Serial Solution Sucker. When one drawer closes…

While I have since steered clear of fitness quick fixes, abstaining from the purchase of most anything that shakes, zaps, rolls, slides, folds or sucks the human body, I regret to inform you that I have merely transferred my optimism to the realm of skin care. Tell me that 80% of women saw a “difference in the appearance” of anything, in any amount of time, and I am there! I have a Drawer of Dreams brimming with products that promise to make me younger, thinner, firmer, smoother, clearer, healthier, and my favorite, more radiant. I don’t even know exactly what that is, but I definitely need it. And the thing about me is: I’m no quitter. If at first I don’t succeed, I’ll try, try, something else. I won’t give up on the last product, in case I just happen to be a late responder. Instead, I layer. Sometimes, I have so many coats on that I suspect I am impervious to puncture.

We all have our moments of magical thinking. Our hearts skip a beat when we stumble upon the “breakthrough” solution to what we perceive as our broken-down selves. They promise this is the thing that will make you more fabulous, in just two weeks! And this time, they really mean it…

Now, as you may have gathered, I am not actually enlightened enough to surrender all hope for a quick fix. If Diane Keaton goes on TV and says she smears this stuff on every night and now, bibbedy-bobbedy-boo, she’s age-perfect, I’m going with it. I’m worth it too! But when I wake up in the morning with that same tired, wrinkled up face, the one thing I can actually count on to make me look younger, thinner, firmer, smoother, clearer and healthier has nothing to do with engineering, or science, or magic. Eating well and exercising hard are, without question, the things that make me feel more radiant.

And I definitely need that.

This story originally appeared in Fitness By Loren.

Loren Martz is an AFAA certified group exercise instructor and personal trainer with 32 years of experience in the fitness industry.



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