Why I Love My Stomach Rolls

Last week at yoga, I was effectively forced to stare at pools of sweat gathering in my stomach rolls.

The pose had me sitting down, folded over, head hanging into my lap, looking at my belly. I don’t what this yoga pose is actually called. Probably Folded Moon or Curled Up Squirrel or something like that.

It was pretty gross.

Exercise – or “sportsing” as I like to call it – has never really been my jam. I’ve had my gym contract cancelled twice for not using it often enough, despite the free parking ticket you get when you do. I felt no shame walking into the gym, swiping that card and walking straight out. Honestly, gyms are like nightclubs except the lights are on and everyone is sober. When I actually went to gym, it was just to use the sauna. I like the sauna.

I’ve tried running, but I’ve realised that the only thing that can make me run is if someone is chasing me. When I used to try jogging around the neighbourhood, I would only run if I saw a car. Not because I thought someone would chase me, but because it might be someone who knew me, so I would step it up and prance along sprightly so it would look like I’m a super fresh runner lady. I’m not a super fresh runner lady.

My husband on the other hand is one of those kettle-belling, cross-fitting, trail-running types. He has more shoes than I do, because all of the above require different footwear. He also likes to eat kale and chia seeds, which I’m still convinced is not-real-food. To give him some credit, he does make a killer smoothie that tastes so good I don’t even know that the afore-mentioned not-real-food is in it. He also has a smoking hot body, which personally I don’t have any objections to.

The problem with my non sportsing life is that after two little kids and too many rusks, I don’t like the way my body feels anymore. I don’t like how breathless I get after playing three minutes of soccer with my boys. I don’t like how my four year old can outrun me on the beach, which is problematic when he’s running away from you stark naked, throwing his head back laughing and won’t come back no matter how much you shout. True story.

I especially don’t like it when I’m waving at another mom in the school parking lot and all I can feel is my chicken-wing arm-flab flapping around.

I need to exercise.

And so, I’ve started doing yoga. I LOVE yoga. There is no pumping dance music telling me to put my hands in the hair or push, push, push. Instead there is a strong, beautiful woman telling me to breathe, and who never shouts at me when I randomly fall over. I love not wearing exercise footwear that costs more than my kids’ school fees. I love that it’s a class so you have actually go at specific times and people watch you so you don’t just lie in the corner and have a nap which is what I would rather do (although I do think there’s a market there for some entrepreneur – a napping centre disguised as a gym). I love that there is always someone in the class who is more bendier than me, and also someone who falls over before me. I am not the worst, which is a refreshing change from the other sportsing I’ve done.


Because you know, mindfulness.

But there is something else yoga has given me that I love even more. As I bent over into the Wilted Flower pose or whatever that was that had me navel-gazing, I looked at my folded, wrinkled body, squishing over itself and dripping sweat, and do you know what I realized?


My belly made those babies.

I love my squishy belly. This belly held the two most beautiful gifts in my life. It brought both of my gorgeous, energetic, hilarious boys into the world. This belly isn’t hard, flat or ripped but you know what? I’ve eaten a lot of really, really good food. I’ve done more than just survive life. I have relished delicious meals with fantastic people. I’ve laughed until my stomach aches in kitchens, around dinner tables, and over braais.

Yoga has given me gratitude. I’m grateful for exercise and my health. I’m grateful for food and family. Yoga even made me grateful for my sweaty stomach.

I’m basically a yogi now, guys.



I’ve Fallen Off the Wagon

I’ve fallen off the wagon. I haven’t been swimming for 2 weeks. I haven’t blogged for even longer. I’m eating way more toasted sandwiches than I should be.I really WANT to be more disciplined but <insert whiny voice here>

“It’s soooooo hard.” 

I just have this very strong gravitational pull towards laziness. It’s like a vortex that sucks me in until I’ve give up and go back to eating ham on the couch instead of doing all the things I should be doing. I happen to be very good at being lazy. I hide it by walking fast and looking stressed so that people assume I must be accomplishing a lot but I’m actually just really, really lazy.

I confess to you now, the deterioration of my discipline:

Day 1: First day of exercising for this blog. I’ve bought a new swimming cap, and a new costume, so I feel very slick and professional. I make babysitting plans for my baby boy, Will. I get to gym, get changed and stand on the edge of the pool. The sun is shining in through the large, glass, windows. The pool is quiet, the water smooth and still. BAM! I’m in.

Wow…I’m actually quite fit.

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Exercises, excuses and a pack of ham

“Oh, that Jess. She is such a fitness fanatic. You should see her with exercise, she’s incredible!” said no one ever.

Probably the last time I smiled during exercise

I hate exercise. I don’t like being tired, I don’t like be sweaty, and I don’t like being useless at something. When I was a teenager, I was quite good at swimming. I trained daily with a swimming club that had a real coach and a pool and everything. But I hated it. I would tell my mom when I woke up that my stomach was sore, in preparation for a major health complication I had planned for after school, so that my excuse to not go swimming at 5pm would seem more legit.

Admittedly, I’ve faked liking exercise. When I was dating my husband Tom, I went mountain-biking with him on a mountain. And we went surfing together quite a few times.  I even used to train with him in his home-made gym, and let him shout and count how many pull-ups I did and time me with the skipping rope. Ah, young love. If he tried that now, I would literally kill him. Well, not literally, but he would have good reason to fear for his life.

If I want to bring more discipline into my life, I know I need to start with one aspect. The problem is if I say I’m going to get fit, eat better, keep my cupboards tidy, manage my time more efficiently, have more regular quiet times, and just be better at everything in the whole wide world – then I know I will get overwhelmed and eat a pack of ham while watching reruns of 30 Rock. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again.

So in order to bring more discipline into my life, I’ve decided to start with one aspect…

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