The Burt Reynolds Approach

I would do a sand bag bear crawl again if it meant no more Spanx.

I believe the very wise Burt Reynolds once said, “You can only suck in your stomach for so long.”

I don’t know why these words have impacted me more than a lot of other sage fitness advice, but it stands out in my mind often. Perhaps it’s the pure simplicity of the statement or the fact that sucking in my stomach got old when I was 12. 

Sure the advent of Spanx has been a great help to some degree but they are merely a more inventive way to suck in. Though, they have saved me from ever taking drastic measures and duct taping my stomach again. I did this at the age of fourteen thinking it was pure bloody genius to tightly mummify myself with tape to look svelte and smashing in a little black dress. True enough, it was a bold use of the everyman’s tape, but I didn’t have the foresight in my blind longing for a flat stomach to think to the after part—pulling ultra sticky tape off my skin in strips. Multiple red welts later and I understood that maybe duct tape wasn’t the best way to achieve a trim midsection. 

I used to joke that if I were living in Europe circa the 1800’s that my tummy woes would’ve been a non-issue. An ample midsection and fair skin were all the rage, both of which I proclaim. Someone would’ve so wanted to paint me lounging on a chaise, daintily dropping grapes in my mouth, all while looking coy and respectfully round. 

Unfortunately, I’ve been told by many trainers that there is no spot training, as in pin-pointing a specific spot on the body (my stomach) and saying shrink this. Simply working out and eating right will naturally do that, but all over. So when my breasts start rapidly deflating while my stomach takes its sweet time I am reminded that God does indeed have a sense of humor. 

So during today’s workout when I could feel bile rising in my throat. When I wanted to sob every time my body collapsed to the floor feeling utterly useless and incompetent after a push-up. When I discovered that there was something worse than burpees—bear crawl suicides across the gym while pushing a 40-lb. sand bag—while the F-word couldn’t help but fall out of my mouth with my heaving breath, at least, at the very least I was reminded of Mr. Reynolds’ wise words that I was doing this to stop sucking in. I was doing this to quit sporting a suit of Spanx beneath my clothes. I was doing this to enjoy my body. I was doing this to feel good about myself. I was doing this to be healthy.

And even if in the meantime I can’t see the forest for the trees, there is a purpose. 

“You can only suck in your stomach for so long.” Amen, Burt. Amen.