Today, Dara Pierre-Louis is back to talk mommy fitness! After moving to LA to pursue an acting career and then quickly finding herself married with child, Dara is working on getting herself back in shape for leading roles—including being a healthy role model for her son. Here she discusses how donuts, yes, donuts, help her to be healthier. —Erin
Donuts Help Me Lose Weight
No, this is not a crazy fad diet. I have always been a person in need of “tangible” motivators; the sheer “joy of doing” has never been enough for me. I need some sort of reward that I can, well, sink my teeth into.
Sweets have not always been my friend. In college I did a work abroad in Germany and gained 30 pounds in three months, consuming eight to 10 chocolate bars a day (no lie). But unlike Germany, the move to Los Angeles has been very kind. I was soon at my fittest, healthiest and subsequently happiest stage of my fitness life until I embarked on that wondrous journey called motherhood. My beautiful son cost me a whopping 80 pounds. My pregnancy was unplanned and unexpected; I was newly married, working an anxiety ridden, overtime desk job, and I attribute the excessive weight gain to stress and, to be honest, disappointment in my pregnant state.
Once my child was born, I was over the moon but also overweight. So I reinstituted the “donut diet.” When I first moved to Los Angeles, where mom-and-pop donut shops exist on every corner, I feared donuts would become my new German chocolate bar. But with simple discipline, I made the donut my friend and not my enemy. I created the simple rule for myself that I could have a donut on Sundays IF and only IF I met my fitness goals for the week. There was a time in my life where my fitness goals were very extensive and included a highlighted gym schedule of selected spinning, Pilates and yoga classes. But now, with my little son in tow, those goals are much more streamlined—running three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. Even though the goals are simple, the donut reward is just as sweet.
When my toddler alarm goes off at 6 a.m. on a Monday morning, and I dread getting out of bed—never mind putting on my sneakers, strapping my squirmy son into the stroller and pushing it out into the blistery LA morning—I imagine standing in front of the donut display selecting this week’s tasty delight. Wednesday morning, when I really wish toddlers came with a “snooze” button, I figuratively taste the deep-fried dough melting in my tastebud-filled mouth. On Friday morning, when I’d rather just spoon my husband cause my legs are too doggone tired, I practice licking those frosting remnants from the corners of my lips and soon find myself racing down the hill, my son giddy with laughter as the stroller cruises downward fast.
Then comes Sunday. Ahhhh, glorious Sunday. Again, the 6 o’clock whimpers of a toddler anxious to start his day. I grumble slightly and then my husband with his happy, knowing grin nudges me and says “It’s donut day,” and I am up. I cannot get my shoes on fast enough! I am lucky enough to live within a 2-mile walking distance of four doughnut shops, so Sunday is not a inactive car ride but yet another stroller fitness adventure there and back for me and my little one. We walk to the store of my choosing, greedily point to our selections in the sugary display, and all too eagerly devour our weekly treat. For me, the simple “joy of doing” just cannot compete.
If you are a sugar fiend like myself and sugar motivates far too much of your life, stop punishing yourself by never ever letting yourself have something you love (only to then find yourself hiding in the closet eating a whole box—it’s okay, we’ve all been there). Don’t make it your enemy; make it your motivational friend. Is it a trip to the drive thru, a cupcake, a candy bar, an ice cream cone? It doesn’t have to be food. I’ve also been known to motivate myself with the promise of a Britney Spears iTunes purchase, a shiny new lip gloss, a trashy glossy magazine or, at times in my life when cash was short, a trip to my favorite window shopping venture or an hour of a mindless computer game.
What motivates you to work out? If it’s the sheer “joy of doing” consider me jealous! —Dara