I Thought I Was In Shape Until… [What surprise-kicked your butt?]

by Charlotte on February 6, 2012 · 50 comments

Me: I saw you birthed. You were purple and covered in more goo than Slimer. 16-year-old Sister: Let’s never have this conversation again. Also, what’s a “Slimer”?? Me: I’m old. 

“TurboKick? P90X 2? Both?? What do you wanna do?!” I nearly hypervenilated with all the possibilities. Laura put on her brave face and answered, “Whatever you want to do, I’m up for it.” My sister Laura is my best friend. She is also a trouper. This past weekend she flew in from out of town so she and I could kidnap our baby sister to celebrate her 16th birthday. (Yes I have a 16-year-old sister and because I was 17 when she was born I got to be there to see her pop out. Which might have been awkward except that my mom is the same person who when she had her hysterectomy the following year saved her uterus in a jar and handed it to me “because I thought you might want to see where you came from.” Let me tell you, holding the uterus that expelled you in your hands is a singular experience. I have a marvelously open family.)

 Laura (on the left) is actually giving bunny ears to the random guy from the improv show we’d just seen but because of the camera angle it just looks like she’s busting a move on him…and I think he likes it. My baby sister is in the middle and that’s me doing my best hunchback impersonation on the end – ironic considering I wore my new boots with the 2 inch platform plus 5 inch heel! Of course this is the only pic we got of all three of us.

Uteruses in jars aside, Laura not only let me drag her through P90X2 (we did the Total Body Workout and were… not impressed. Again.) but she also let me Experiment all kinds of other things on her. She tried foam rolling wherein we discovered that my inability to feel it at all does not run in the family. She went and got adjusted/analyzed by Dr. Dan my chiropractor of psychic fame and got way more excitement than she bargained for. She even tried T-Tapp with me for kicks and giggles! (She had a really interesting experience with her first T-Tapp workout and has agreed to continue with it to give me more info.)

Here’s the catch: Laura is not a fitness nut like I am. Her type A tendencies tend towards being PTO president and Cub Scout leader – you know, things that actually better society. She likes to exercise (she’s been doing Rachel Cosgrove’s workout for several months now!) but she’s just not crazy about it like I am. So when she collapsed on my couch and sighed, “You know I thought I was in shape until I came here. I’m torched!” it was with an air of failure.

Except that she’d done anything but fail. Just trying all those new things is huge and of course she was exhausted! This idea of “being in shape” is such a relative term and one I’ve come to seriously dislike.

I love these girls!

“So if you’ve been doing all this fitness stuff for the past five years, then shouldn’t you be in perfect shape by now?” a cheeky friend recently asked me. If the universe was fair, then yes, by now I would be Gisele but while knowledge is cumulative (sometimes painfully so), exercise sure isn’t. One of the most common mistakes people make about me is to assume that because I try all these different workouts that I’m some kind of super athlete. The truth is that doing something for 30 days gives me just enough knowledge to be dangerous but not enough to save me from myself. Or to put it more succinctly: I’m good at everything, great at nothing. Which in my mind is a small price to pay for all the fun I get to have.

What it means in practice is that I get my butt handed to me on a regular basis. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sighed, just like Laura, “I thought I was in shape until…” Sometimes, like when I went to the CrossFit St. Paul gym, I expect to be killed. (And boy was I right on that one. We alternated thrusters and ring pull-ups until death seemed preferable.) But other times it surprises me, like how the Physique 57 Barre workout from last month’s experiment made my butt so sore I walked like a penguin with an egg between its feet for two solid weeks. Nothing like a surprise arse-kicking to make you humble!

Now it’s your turn! Finish this sentence: “I thought I was in shape until…” You did 200 burpees? Tried MMA? Picked up the Men’s Shakeweight in Wal-Mart only to nearly club yourself with it and have to drop down to the stupid pink Women’s version?? (Ahem.) What surprise-kicked your butt? Anyone else have a really open family??

Gratuitous kid shot! We made crafts so I could pretend I’m one of those awesome moms who comes up with fun activities instead of giving them the Wii remote and telling them to go nuts (which is what usually happens). Also, please note that after this pic was snapped I “lost” all of Jelly Bean’s binkies and she hasn’t asked for them since. I fretted about it for weeks and it ended up being just that easy. Kids. 

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura February 6, 2012 at 11:45 pm

All I have to say is this: Mom let you hold her uterus?? I thought the only she had was her kidney stones. . . and working out with you was fun (even though I couldn’t keep up). . . and when I hang out with you I need to wear more make-up because, wow, you look gorgeous and I look like I just rolled out of bed!



M. Lindsay February 7, 2012 at 1:19 am

re: rolling out of bed- Lies! All three of you are gorgeous!


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I agree with Meghan! You are gorgeous with or without makeup!! And yeah I got to hold her uterus but it was in a jar the whole time! And I don’t know that she still has it. It was just in the hospital.


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Wait – mom still has her kidney stones?!


Jenn (GH) February 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Thing 2 “lost” his binkie when he threw it out the window. We gave Thing 2 a pair of scissors and let him cut it up (which he found to be great fun) and it was “gone”. I, too, was shocked at how easy it was.

I would say when I went through the RKC but everyone was hurting even the guys who looked like Batman. I don’t think anyone could not go through that and not feel like they had been wrestling an alligator. (Dumb analogy) Not to toot my own horn, but my last workout was brutal. Seriously, I don’t think I have ever hurt that bad in my life from a single workout but that could be because I’ve been slacking on my workouts and have lost a good deal of strength and conditioning. I also remember the first time I ran bleachers…holy moly….my calves were screaming.


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Ooh I just added your Arkansas workout to my to-do list! Thanks for the tip!!


jenny February 7, 2012 at 12:26 am

I thought I was in shape until I started swimming. Seriously, I can run 3 miles in under 21 minutes, do Insanity workouts, and do more push ups then most men, but when I jumped into the pool I had no stamina. I was surprised at how quickly I wore out, how hard I was breathing after just a few laps, and how tired my muscles felt when I got out.


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm

AMEN TO THIS! When we did the swimming experiment I thought I was going to die or puke my first time swimming laps. It was way, way harder than I’d ever given it credit for!


M. Lindsay February 7, 2012 at 1:24 am

I thought I was in shape until I tried to run. I have an ongoing battle with running. I can do a 90m spin class, and do it well, with higher tension and faster cadence than most of the participants. I can swim pretty quickly, and have decent endurance. I can do TRX, and bootcamps, and a variety of other activities.

Running always bests me. I think I forget how to breathe when I run or something.

Regardless, summer goal = learn to run. At least a bit, so I don’t look like a complete fool when friends say “let’s go for a jog at lunch”.

Also, ballet class was a shock, because my tush really hurt after that, even though I didn’t feel it at the time.

That being said, I’m thankful I still have something to remind me that I’m not as fit as I think I am, because otherwise, life would be sort of boring.

Yay for gratutitious pic of your kidlets! You’re such a great mom, keeping them busy with their creativity and imaginations. Plus, it’s adorable that jellybean has mismatched socks, yet her binkie matches her shirt, which matches her hair ribbon…..every girl needs a little spice in her wardrobe I suppose.


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Haha – I thought of you when I posted the kids’ pic, actually, because of Jelly Bean’s whale spout up on top! Thought you’d appreciate that;) And good point about keeping things from getting boring. Keep me posted on how your learn-to-run experiment goes! I’m kind of the opposite – I can run (slowly) forever but heaven help me if I have to swim laps!


Sue February 7, 2012 at 2:03 am

I’ve actually never thought that I was ‘in shape’. I’m surrounded by marathoners, iron men, alpine skiers, cyclists (Crossing the Alps in seven days? No biggie!), etc. My husband used to teach martial arts and could still kick me through a wall. Those guys are in shape!
On the other hand, I was kind of surprised how sore I was after my first racketball training last fall. I was hobbling and could hardly move my right arm for three days! Ouch!


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Oooh I haven’t played racketball in years and now I suddenly want to! And I think you need to give yourself more athlete cred, Sue!!!


Cort The Sport February 7, 2012 at 4:34 am

“I thought I was in shape until” I gardened or weeded. What is it about that activity that kicks my butt? Give me the choice of running/biking for three hours or weeding/gardening for three, and it’s a no brainer. The run is easy. Gardening – it’s hard, things hurt, I get hot, tired, cranky. Go figure!


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Haha – so true! Gardening kicks my butt too AND also makes me crabby. I don’t like dirt+sweat!!


Laurel February 7, 2012 at 5:10 am

Every time I try a new lifting regime! I just read the “New Rules of Lifting for Abs” and there is a plank progression. Lou Schuller said the one on the TRX was the hardest. I had done planks on balls, big and small, one legged planks, etc, so I thought, “oh, how hard could it be?” Oh, baby, it was hard. Also, overhead squats. Epic fail. Luckily, when your arms give out, your body has the common sense to not let the bar crash down on your head. Instead, the weights are down by your knees, and you aren’t sure how they got there.


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Overhead squats are my arch-nemesis! When we did NRLFW/Cosgrove I had to do them without any weight to figure out the balance and even now, just using the bar is seriously hard for me! And yay for TRX abs!!


Naomi/Dragonmamma February 7, 2012 at 6:23 am

I AM in shape, but I STILL get my butt thrashed whenever I do something new or different; it’s just a side-effect of being 53. The good news is that I always adjust within a week or two. (So I insist as I sit here with sore shoulders because I’ve been working on handstand walks for a couple of weeks now.)


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Handstand walks!!! I love you! Those are some of my faves but they kill my wrists if I practice too often


Erin February 7, 2012 at 7:18 am

I’ve always found it fascinating that I can run marathons but a cardio kickboxing class will leave me sore for days. The first time I went back to cardio kickboxing after years away I was so sore the next day I could barely move.


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I had the same experience when I first started kickboxing!


Dr. J February 7, 2012 at 7:22 am

The first thought that came to me was where I was in a karate tourney ( black belt division), and my first opponent, in the first couple of seconds, knocked me down and was ahead one to zero!!

But then I remembered when I had run 20 odd miles to a friends home feeling that he would drive me home and no one was there!! I ended up running 35 miles. That was a serious butt-kicking! ( I ended up winning that karate match :-)


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm

So if you ran 20+ miles there and only 15 miles home… did you end up at a gas station? And hey, congrats on teh karate match! It sounds epic!


Katie February 7, 2012 at 7:55 am

I always think I’m in shape….until I go to the gym. Or wake up. ;)

Wait, so you don’t like P90X2?!? Huh?


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm

HAR HAR – I have worked out with you so I know how awesomely in shape you are! As for P90X, we’ve only been doing it 1 week so I’m reserving judgement at this point. I will say I have not been impressed yet with phase 1 though.


Robyn February 7, 2012 at 8:10 am

I have no illusions of being “in shape,” but after working out regularly for 2 years, let’s say I have a certain threshold for exercise. Then came Tabatas. Tabatas kick my butt up and down the street, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat. Then, just to be a jerk, they say, “See you next week, chump!”


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Yep, I think Tabatas do that to everyone! They’re a killer!


Heather @ Bake, Run, Live February 7, 2012 at 8:10 am

Burpees do it for me. 10 burpees in and I’m starting to sweat!
Oh, but here’s what hurt the worst (and the longest)…a few weeks ago we had a nice amount of snow (16 inches), so I decided to make a snow angel…in the driveway. I obviously don’t know how to fall backwards evenly, as my butt hit first. For the next 2 weeks, my right cheek hurt (I think I bruised the bone). The funny part was when my boyfriend tried to help me up out of the snow, I told him I just wanted to keep laying there, as the cold felt good on my butt!


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Hahaha – funny how the things that came so easily to us as kids now injure us as adults! We’ve had a weird winter here, not even enough snow for snow angels…


Julie February 7, 2012 at 8:23 am

I thought I was in shape until I found out I was squatting wrong! I had no idea: all those years I had been going to parallel or just past parallel, I was missing out on the hardest part! I recently started working with a personal trainer and he explained to me how you should go through your full range of motion. (Essentially, if you put your fingers on your hip bones, when you are at the bottom they should be smashed between your legs and your hips- you want your hip bone to dissapear in the crease between leg and hip).
I was falling over, and couldn’t even do a wall sit for a minute at the new depth, despite weight lifitng and doing tons of squats for months prior to this.


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Isn’t that the truth! CrossFit showed me how bad my squat form really was and it’s a killer to do them correctly!


Jenny C. February 7, 2012 at 8:42 am

I thought I was in shape until I had to chase my friend’s dog that had gotten loose. I’m terrible at running and get tired out so easily. It also didn’t help that my fellow dog chasers were track stars.

On the bright side, it did help motivate me to stick with my running program. Whether I like it or not, I’m going to have to run sometimes (in the event of another dog getting loose or a zombie attack), so I might as well get good at it, right?


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I’m giggling imagining like 10 people sprinting after a runaway dog… I bet the dog had the time of his life!


Crabby McSlacker February 7, 2012 at 11:19 am

Great post and I’m loving the comments!

I get my butt kicked all the time thinking I’m in better shape than I am. One of many examples: Once I saw Ellen Degeneres knocking out a set of one-armed push ups on her show, and assumed that if she could do ‘em, and we’re about the same age, that I must be able to as well, if I bothered to give it a try.

Um, no. Not then, not not, possibly not ever. Those are hella hard!


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Ooh I did the same thing! I saw Christina Ricci do one-armed push-ups on Letterman years ago (in stilettos, no less) and was like “she is puny, I can totally do that!” Totally could not.


Nicole February 7, 2012 at 11:21 am

I thought I was in shape until I re-started mountain biking last summer. Holy Cow! Biking up a hill for an hour straight is TOUGH! I’m pretty sure that is one thing that will ALWAYS kick my butt. You go from doing every hill in little chunks, to big chunks, to all in one go, to all in one go at a speed that is faster than a crawl etc. etc.


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I haven’t mountain biked in years (no mountains here, sadly) but I remember from my childhood that it was brutal! But sooo much fun! I’m jealous:)


Heather C February 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I thought I was in shape until I tried my parents endless pool. I was running 40 miles a week at the time and thought I should probably be wearing a cape because I was that awesome. My parents installed this endless pool, the kind where you swim against a current, in their house. I was disdainful of swimming as a workout so my dad put me on the pool, cranked on the current and I think I made it 3 or 4 minutes before I was gasping for air and thinking I was dying.


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm

So so true. I find swimming ridiculously hard. Was totally humbled the first time we had to swim laps!


Annie February 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Never been in shape so that sentence has nevah entered my mind… and an open family?? R U NUTS? no way… my parents “50′s sit com” kissed… you know like Dezi and Lucy… I’m pretty sure they never really had sex.. i received a book “what 12 year olds need to know about their body” at the age of 11.. no explanation, just “here, read this”… we couldn’t say butt or crap.. it was your “behind”.. and saying “pee” – NO WAY.. it was “potty” or “grunny” (and I ask you, doesn’t “grunny” sound MUCH worse than poop????) ROFL.. bodily functions were off limits except when asked “do you have to potty” and my mom did seem a bit concerned about how often I “grunnied”.. other than that.. mums the word.. when my mom had a hysterectomy I had no idea THAT was what she had done until years later when I had left home! Interestingly enough, I grew up to be a nurse and deal with all the “off limit” things on a daily basis.. one of the things I learned as a young nurse was to use whatever word the patient uses for their “elimination”.. so one time I asked this elderly lady what she called urinating and I thought she said “p*ss”.. I was a bit taken aback because she looked pretty buttoned up.. but (shrug) whatever.. so I walk in and ask her very politely “do you need to p*ss?” ROFL.. the look of pure horror on her face! WHOOPS I must have misunderstood her somewhere along the line.. mmm I have no idea how I got to that story.. sorry… uh.. yeah.. not an open family.


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Buwhahaha! I don’t know how you got to that story either but I’m sure glad you did! I’m dying. And next time I’m in the hospital I’m totally going to make up some insane word for pee just to give the nurse a little entertainment!


Jody - Fit at 54 February 7, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I so know that just because I do what I do – does not mean the next thing will not knock me down for sure!!! When I did kickboxing – OMG! I also know that other things will take me down – keeps me humble & always learning! :-)


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Kickboxing kicked my butt too!


Cynthia February 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I thought I was in shape until Body Rock! I thought it was too short to do any real damage…ha!


Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 9:16 pm

TRUE. “I can do anything for 12 minutes” sure came back to haunt me!


Erin February 8, 2012 at 7:22 am

I thought I was in great shape until I took a “body pump” class in university.

I entered the room feeling pretty confident. We each had steps and an 8lb bar. The instructor seemed really nice and then it started.

First, we warmed up with some step aerobics, which made me giggle uncontrollably at my terrible moves.

Then came the pump part of the class and the nice instructor turned into a drill sergeant. All I remember is triceps extensions all the time. While Standing, while squatting, while lunging. Just triceps everywhere!

By the end of class, I was so wound up that I didn’t sleep the whole night. The next day, I could not bend my arms. I don’t mean that my triceps were just sore, I mean that they were throbbing and refused to work.

This is how I learned just how important bending your arms actually is to all daily activities. I couldn’t wash in the shower. I couldn’t put on clothes properly. Trying to feed myself with straight arms had my roommates (and myself) in hysterics. I ended up going to the doctor who laughed at me and told me to wait it out. You know what he said? I wouldn’t have believed you if it hadn’t have happened to me before. I ate a lot of humble pie that week.


Brandy February 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I thought I was in shape until I… GOT PREGNANT!!!! Holy cow, is it hard to carry a baby around plus all the extra that goes with it, and keep yourself from throwing up every 5 minutes, your hips in line with your spine, breath in and out while going up stairs, bending down to tie your shoes without a break, and don’t get me started on the pushing!!!! I can finish a triathalon no problem, but pregnancy kicks my butt!


Charlotte February 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Oh YES to this times ten!! So very true and it was that way for both my mental and physical fitness!


Will February 10, 2012 at 7:18 am

I though I was in shape until I attended my wife’s Bikram yoga class. I’m a heavy lifter so I didn’t think lifting my own body weight would be a big deal. Boy, was I wrong. After about 30 minutes I was DYING! I’ve never felt so puny – or inflexible. It showed me I have a lot of work to do.


Lisa February 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Will we get to hear about your sister’s interesting experience with T-Tapp? Dying to know!


Charlotte February 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm



Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: