From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul


A waist is a terrible thing to mind.


Only Jell-O is supposed to jiggle.

But any overweight person knows that a whole lot of shaking goes on before a bountiful body becomes a lean, dream, fit machine. Instead of benefiting from the physics of exercise equipment and the knowledge of personal trainers, many dieters never set foot inside a gym or health club.

If life were fair, consistently exercising smart food choices would be the only activity needed to rid the body of the bulges that wiggle and jiggle.

But life isn’t fair, as my whining children often hear. I had to eat those words myself when my naturally slender friend, Barb, unknowingly fed them to me.

Until that day, I’d assumed her model figure came naturally. It had, the self-proclaimed junk food lover said while eating a dinner salad. But when she hit middle age, gravity began pulling at her butt, boobs and midsection as relentlessly as it tugged at the rest of us. And her junk food diet started adding on unwanted pounds.

Instead of joining the chorus of whiners bemoaning the injustice of gravity and slowing metabolisms, she moved to counter nature’s effects.


She began rising before the sun, getting in forty-five minutes of aerobics and weight training in the quiet comfort of home while the alarm clock let her family sleep until 5:00 AM.

Completing this morning ritual is now as automatic as keeping her weekly manicure appointments. Fair or not, she said, it’s what she has to do to maintain the look she wants.

Aha! I thought, swallowing more than the last of my dessert.

With enlightened resignation, I pledged to get physical once again. This time, though, the pledge was sealed with a commitment to hang tough over the long haul. Long enough to see whether exercise coupled with my diet would work for me, too.

Early morning walks along neighborhood streets more familiar to the wheels of my car than to the soles of my feet were the start. Then, apprehension following a close encounter with deer made me retreat to my home. I did aerobic video workouts and calisthenics using hand weights or the natural heft of my body parts.

The euphoria of my new commitment propelled me day to day from tape to tape for a while; so did disdain for the jiggles and the girdles, now called body shapers, marketed to keep bouncing bodies in check. Feeling tight and toned was my long-term goal.

Completing a ninety-minute aerobics tape without panting like a puppy was the short-term one. It loomed large, like an Olympian challenge far out of reach.

But it wasn’t.

My fitness pledge fueled a new morning ritual. Whether a leap or a crawl moved me out of bed, the video trainer put me through my paces every weekday. Before sunrise, just like Barb.

In time, I was running out of tape long before I ran out of breath.

And the jiggles came to an end.

I still remember glowing in the gold medal moment of that realization.

It was a typical morning, except that instead of wearing the spandex leotard that helped me pretend my muscles were taut, I wore a sports bra and cotton briefs. This outfit revealed the first signs of the change taking shape—the waistband was loose and the seat was baggy.

There were other changes, too. I was stepping higher during marches in place because a big belly no longer blocked the lift of my knees. My butt didn’t bounce when I stopped moving and my flexed arms showed definition from biceps toning up.

The jiggles were gone.

Of course, none of it happened overnight. Diet and exercise progress in incremental bites must have fed my commitment subconsciously any time the lure of the pillow threatened to smother the lure of physical fitness.

A full plate of changes still feeds my commitment to the lifestyle changes I’ve made, including:

• Seeing boobs, not stomach, when looking down toward the floor. Feeling hip bones, not love handles, when my arms are by my side.

• Having oversized T-shirts and sweatshirts glide over my hips, not bunch at my waist. Getting more days from my pantyhose because thunder thighs aren’t rubbing holes in them.

• Realizing leggings should not feel like girdles.

• Walking around naked at day’s end without seeing telltale underwear marks.

• Wearing form-fitting workout gear, not loose, extra large anything, even at home alone.

No, life isn’t fair, especially the dieter’s life. Now I know it takes the consistency of smart food choices and regular exercise to banish the bulges that bug me. It’s a combination I pledge to continue so that all that jiggles is my Jell-O.

Edwina L. Kaikai

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