When Putting Your Clothes on Counts as Strength Training

Okay, I have put on a couple of pounds.  AND I DON’T LIKE IT.

But along with my unfortunate weight gain has come enlightenment and lessons learned.

Like when I was complaining to a trainer I work out with twice a week that I am having some trouble zipping my zippers and I need to lose a few pounds.

He said: “It’s probably muscle.”

Uhhh…well Noooo.

Running  10 miles a week, training 30 minutes, three times a week with light weights and taking an occasional spin class would NOT create enough muscles to go up a whole clothing size, unless the new bodybuilding drugs are named “Krispy Kreme,” “Doritos” and “Sweet Tea.”


Lesson #1: Only athletes training for the Olympics or using steroids will gain enough muscle to outgrow their clothes.  If you are a normal person who participates in normal fitness activities, you are not going to get bigger from exercise unless part of your fitness plan involves hot fudge sundaes on the couch while watching Desperate Housewives.

I was heading out to a party, and put on the little black dress I planned to wear, and OMG!!!  There was my head, on a Rubenesque body. I normally don’t have much of a figure, but now…this dress was clingy – hips, tummy…. I was self-conscious in my own bedroom. But I didn’t have time to change, and I rationalized that it would be dark and I’d be sitting most of the time, so maybe no one would notice.rubens1

Well wouldn’t ya know it?  I went up to the bar to get a drink and a random guy just sort of sidled over to me and said, “this may sound forward, but I have to say you really know how to wear that dress.”


Lesson #2: If you think you look a certain way in an outfit…like you have body parts hanging out or sticking out, or new curves you have never had before and you don’t like it, don’t think nobody will notice. They will.  Go ahead and change your clothes.

Getting dressed has become a cross training exercise.  Yes. It works best with jeans fresh out of the washer/dryer.  You step into the jeans that USED TO FIT, and you get a pretty decent workout pulling them up.  Getting them over your calves and knees is just the warm-up, but when you work your way up to the thighs, that’s where your strength training kicks in.  The pulling and tugging front and back works your biceps and triceps and forearms.  Sucking in trying to zip up and button up works the abs and the lung capacity (when you hold your breath).  You get bonus exercise points for a cardio workout if you jump up and down to create gravity to force your butt through the waist-hole.

Lesson #3 and #4: Make sure you have good upper body strength before you try this exercise.  And be careful with the wriggling, gyrating and twisting back and forth so you don’t throw your back out.  And be sure to stretch afterwards.

Remember:  Don’t use your belt loops as handles for pulling.  Ripping will ensue and your underpants will show through the hole, and some random man may notice and say “hey, you really know how to wear those jeans.”

What happens when you use the loops as handles for tugging

What happens when you use the loops as handles for tugging

Sometimes those cravings just hit and I MUST eat something.  I was jogging the other day and spotted some delectable blackberries growing by the sidewalk.  I picked one and ate it.  It was nice, and crunchy, and syrupy sweet.  Quite yummy. So I ate another one.  But then it occurred to me that blackberries usually emerge in July at the earliest, and it was only May.

Uh oh!

Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the berries were growing on a tree-like plant, and not a thorn covered vine with pointy leaves where you find most blackberries hanging.  These were NOT blackberries!!!!!

For the rest of the run…about 3 miles, I had phantom symptoms of poisoning ..throat closing, stomach churning, lightheadedness…. Exactly how poisoning is shown on TV, but the point is, I survived.

These are Blackberries

These are Blackberries

These are NOT blackberries

These are NOT blackberries

Lesson #5:  If you have let yourself gain a few pounds, you know you are in trouble when you cave into your cravings and try to eat anything, regardless of whether you are risking a horrible-death-by-poisoning to eat it.

At a meeting of my running group, there was a table with books for sale.  One was called “Running ‘Til You’re 100,” which I rejected outright, cringing at the thought of running for 50 or 60more years.  But the book called “Running and Fat Burning” caught my eye.  I originally took up running to burn fat before running took over me and I gained weight anyway.  So I forked over my $20 bucks, and we’ll see what happens.

I would not be surprised if the first sentence about nutrition advises runners that the first step in maintaining good health is to avoid eating poison plants and berries that grow along the the trails.

fatburning running book


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