My Mom Is My #Fitspo
As I was typing up my interview with Molly Sims the other day, I starting wondering whether real women really benefit from reading about how celebrities stay fit.
Naturally, many of us are curious about the secret lives of these famous women, but do we find the information helpful and actually applicable to our own lives? That’s debatable.
I thought about the fact that it’s the women in our own lives, the ones we actually know, that really influence our behavior. I asked myself, “Who do I know that might be able to provide some real world insight to my readers?” That’s when it hit me.
I have the most inspirational, hard-working, Superwoman right at my fingertips. Why had I never considered interviewing her before?
I’m talking about my own mother, Patti English.
For the past 40 years, my mom has maintained a daily exercise regimen, made nutritious meals for the family almost every night, and worked full time all the while.
When I was young, she used to run 5 miles everyday with our Doberman, Griffin.
As injuries began to take their toll with age, she moved to exercising indoors on a running board — much to the embarrassment of my sister and I, who would quickly usher our friends out of the living room where she would be bouncing up and down, windmilling her arms around.
After that too became hard on her knees, she joined a gym and began a precisely 48-minute-a-day elliptical routine.
All the while, she stuck with it, never giving in to injury or exhaustion. Watching her tirelessly persevere and never make excuses was extremely influential, and one of the main motivators behind my own fitness journey.
Even now, when I come home to visit during the holidays, she’s always right there at my bedside come 7 a.m., coaxing me to join her for a morning workout.
“Come on Whit! Just think how great you’ll feel after,” she’ll smile. As much as I want to roll over and tell her to get out of my room, I know she’s right.
So while learning the health and fitness secrets of celebrities will always be a guilty pleasure for many, I think it’s real women like my mom — a 61-year-old woman working full-time, caring for a family, and still being completely dedicated to her health — that really inspire people.
Here are my mom’s secrets to success:
Whitney: Why do you love exercising so much?
Patti: (Laughs) Well, I never really did love it. At first I made myself do it to lose a few pounds, and because it was a social activity with friends. I was reinforced by instant weight loss though. I really like to eat, so I stuck with it.
Whitney: And how do you feel about it now? Is there another aspect that motivates you outside of staying fit?
Patti: When you’re exercising, you’re really living in the moment. It’s an immediate challenge that you’re facing, so any problems in your life are put on hold as you’re focusing on this goal. I’m a very goal-oriented person, and it’s hard work. So when you’re done, you feel such a sense of accomplishment. And it releases endorphins, so I when I’m finished I feel very relaxed and am able to sit down and focus on my day.
Whitney: That’s right. The mental benefits of exercise are something people often forget about. How do you feel when you miss a workout?
Patti: I don’t know because I work out everyday (laughs). If I’m sick though, I let my body rest. But when I don’t workout I feel more uptight, and not as relaxed.
Whitney: Working out everyday is intense. I certainly don’t! How do you do it? Don’t you ever wake up in the morning and just feel too tired?
Patti: I make it a priority. I like to do my workout, if possible, first thing in the day. That way its done, and I don’t have it hanging over my head. I just put myself on autopilot and I don’t think about it until I’m there.
Whitney: So you just go through the motions until you’re at the gym, on the elliptical. Any other tips to make the routine easier?
Patti: I watch the news while I work out, and I like to suck on mints while I’m on the elliptical. The mint flavor psychologically gives me a boost and keeps my mouth from getting dry and my sinuses from bothering me. It also helps to go to a club because you end up having people you see every time, and you support each other. It’s a bond you form in your common goal to stay healthy.
Whitney: So you do the elliptical machine now (FYI: she does 48-minutes, 175 RPM, with a resistance of 20). Do you miss running outdoors?
Patti: No, because I just got too many injuries. I would get bone bruises and back pain. I ran for over 30 years and it was just too high impact. Since I switched to the elliptical, I haven’t had an injury in 5 years. I can work out 7 days a week really hard, and get the same benefit as running. It’s also better for my allergies and I’m not so dependent on the weather.
Whitney: I know you generally eat pretty healthy, but as your daughter, I also know about your Friday night Papa John’s pizza deliveries and your affinity for cheesecake brownies. How does your diet fit into your healthy lifestyle, and how has it changed over the years?
Patti: I make sure I eat a balanced diet with protein and fruits and vegetables everyday, but sweets are my downfall. I’m a sweet freak. I’m trying to lay off though. With my hard workouts, I used to be able to eat sweets every night. But as I get older, I need to cut back because my metabolism is getting slow. I’m just trying to keep the status quo.
Whitney: Cooking dinner all week can be hard after working all day. What’s your go-to, healthy meal for the family?
Patti: A chicken pesto dish, with whole wheat pasta and veggies. I try to make meals in large quantities that you can freeze for nights when you don’t have time to cook.
Whitney: What’s your fitness motto?
Patti: “No pain, no gain,” and, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Whitney: And finally, what’s your advice to women looking to start a new fitness routine?
Patti: Take it slowly. When I first started running, I would do 2 miles, 3 times a week. As it got easier, I worked up to 5 miles a day. Baby steps. Don’t push yourself to do too much in the beginning, or you’ll burn out.
A big thanks to my mom for doing this interview and Happy Mother’s Day to all of the other wonderful, inspirational moms out there!
Love you, Mom.