Can exercise help you lose weight, sing better, and alleviate depression? It did all that and more for Ypsi Studio’s own Jo Brown, who shares her journey and the secret of working out when you have four kids.
When did you start your fitness and weight loss journey, and what prompted you to begin it?
I started walking in the mornings when I had insomnia. After a while I lost 20 pounds. I also noticed that the exercise helped with the anxiety and depression that were keeping me from sleeping. Then I got a groupon for Ypsi Studio and discovered yoga and spin and WillPower and Grace. I like being strong! I like being fast(ish). I like that my kids see me as strong, particularly my little girls. My girls like to do yoga with me at home and my oldest is eager to join Girls on the Run when she is old enough.
Besides being a positive influence on my children, the main thing that keeps me exercising still is that it really helps keep mental illness at bay. It’s a shame more people don’t realize this and a shame that it took me so long to. Fact is there is still so much stigma attached to mental illness and people don’t talk about it. But I am a healthier person inside and out because of exercise.
How much weight have you lost?
Between 40 and 50 pounds. I’m not 100% sure of my start weight. I also have about 10 pounds that I tend to lose and gain back over and over (that was always the case for me anyway.)
As a busy mom, how do you make time to work out?
I have a supportive spouse, a helpful teenager who doesn’t mind babysitting, and I do workouts in the early morning when I can. I include my children as much as possible.
Do you have tips for people who have a tough time scheduling workouts?
First thing in the morning is the best time to workout. All day long you can smile to yourself thinking how strong and awesome you are for already working out. Also, sleep in your workout clothes, get up in the morning and pull on your shoes like a firefighter.
What has been the most surprising thing you’ve discovered on your weight loss journey?
Thin priveledge. I never noticed it when I was bigger or when I was thinner. But now that I’ve lost weight people are nicer to me, quicker to help in the stores, holding doors open. It is rather unfortunate.
But on the plus side, I love feeling strong. I love having energy to keep up with my kids. I love being able to chase all the preschoolers when I volunteer at my daughter’s preschool. I like showing off my muscles. My singing range has improved and my endurance for singing has improved. I used to get tired from a couple of hours of singing and now I can sing all night! If you are singing correctly, you really use your core a lot.
Jo Brown is a mother of four and a singer with local duo Dark-Eyed Molly. You may have seen her on Tuesday afternoons during the past two summers singing at the Downtown Ypsi Farmer’s Market.
She hails from Memphis, Tennesse. She’s lived a lot of places: California, Indiana, Wales; but has called southeast Michigan her home for two and a half years. You can find her at Music on the Mat, weekday morning spin class, and just about any yoga class she can make it to. You can keep up with her musical comings and goings at www.darkeyedmolly.com.