What Would Shaun T. Do?: Slice of Life #sol16

slice of life

We have a new guru in our house, and his name is Shaun T.

Shaun T. eats whole-wheat bread with lots of seeds. He advocates one fruit smoothie every day. He knows that protein at breakfast is a must. Lately, he’s on a yoga kick: he’s been telling everyone they should do yoga at least twice a week. Yoga is very good for the abs, Shaun T. says. Once the yoga habit is firmly established, he’s going to start pushing daily meditation. I already know that Shaun T. is a staunch believer in five minutes of calm deep breathing right before bed, when minds are racing out of control. I don’t know yet how Shaun T. is going to link breathing to the building of abs, but if anyone can, Shaun T. can.

There is the real Shaun T., a super successful fitness instructor who leads several top-selling DVD workout series. And then there is our imaginary friend Shaun T., who has become my voice for helping my son build healthy habits.

My son was introduced to the real Shaun T after he caught a snippet of an infomercial during one of his approximately seven unsupervised minutes of TV viewing. He began begging me to buy him the workouts “by that abs guy.”

“Mom, the guy has got abs. If I work out with him, I’m gonna get abs too.”

“You already have abs.”

“No, you don’t get it. He’s got ABS.”

I’ve been trying to get my son to commit to daily exercise for years, and so when he promised to work out every day if only I would buy him the DVDs “with that abs guy,” I caved. Or I would have caved if I knew what the abs guy’s name was. But my son couldn’t remember the name of the instructor or the name of the workout or anything at all about the workout—except “that dude is ripped!”

And so I embarked on what I thought was the least promising Google search of all time.

“Abs workout DVD male instructor.”

But Google knew exactly what I wanted. One second later, there was the real Shaun T.

shaun t.jpeg

We met the imaginary Shaun T. just moments after opening his T25 fitness DVD package. It came with assorted adverts and brochures, including a booklet of recipes and menu ideas.

There was a photo of a sandwich on grainy bread.

“Does Shaun T. eat sandwiches on that bread?” my son asked.

“Definitely. Shaun T. does not believe in white bread.”

Earlier that day my son had told me he didn’t believe in any kind of brown bread: only white or sourdough would do for him. So I was being facetious, but it got his wheels turning. A couple of hours later, he asked me to make his sandwich on “Shaun T bread.”

And that got my wheels turning.

Smoothies are a lunchtime and snack staple around here, especially in summer. But they had become contentious. My son was in full rebellion against the evils of extra fruit, protein, and vitamins. Just the day before, he had declared that he wouldn’t drink any more smoothies.

But what if Shaun T. drank smoothies? What if Shaun T. insisted on a post-workout smoothie every single day?

I picked up the recipe booklet and flipped through it, then casually remarked to my husband, “Oh wow. Shaun T. says he drinks a smoothie every single day. He says it’s one of the best ways he knows to get the protein and vitamins he needs to build abs.”

My husband dutifully played along. “Well, look at him. He obviously knows what he’s talking about.”

There was hardly a pause.

“Can I have a smoothie for a snack?” my son asked.

It blew my mind.

Whole-grain bread and smoothies were just the beginning.

Thanks to Shaun T., we are now eating salads several times a week. Shaun T. thinks flexibility is very important, so we’re stretching. Nothing has helped Shaun T. build a stronger core than yoga. One of his key insights is that it’s especially good for the abs when you match your breath to the movement in yoga! Shaun T. loves those deep breaths. He meditates. He hikes. Those abs require a wide variety of healthy activities and habits.

I’m sure the real Shaun T. eats a lot of salads and drinks a lot of smoothies. As for the rest, well, I’m making it up. I don’t know if the real Shaun T. has ever done yoga. Maybe he’s got allergies and hates going outdoors. All I know is that my son resists my suggestions for good mental and physical health, but he will listen to anything Shaun T. says. And this trauma mama firmly believes that the ends justify the means when it comes to health and healing. If it takes our imaginary friend Shaun T. to get my son taking some deep calming breaths, so be it.

It’s tempting to experiment and discover just how far Shaun T’s reach extends. If Shaun T loved neatly folded shirts, would my son organize his closet? If Shaun T believed that whoever cooks a meal shouldn’t clean up, would my son suddenly start volunteering to wash dishes?

But I try to adhere to certain ethical standards. I won’t use Shaun T. for my own convenience, no matter how much I might like a cleaner house.

Still, I do wonder how far is too far. Is my son ever going to notice the uncanny overlap between what Shaun T. advocates for healthy living and what I’ve invited him to do over the years for his physical and mental health?

When he does, maybe it will be time to get a new imaginary friend. I read recently that Steph Curry and Lebron James meditate. Maybe I’ll discover that Russell Westbrook loves a nature walk.





18 responses to “What Would Shaun T. Do?: Slice of Life #sol16”

  1. Juliana Ellington Avatar

    This is GREAT!!!!!!

  2. ALR Avatar

    I bet the real; Shaun T is ok, too. =)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I like to imagine that the real Shaun T. would totally approve!

  3. Linda Baie Avatar

    Everyone needs a role model, and sadly that isn’t often a mom, except later in life. Sounds as if Shaun T is a good partner in this business of raising a kid.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      LOL, Linda. I have become an expert at the back door invitation–if I can only find an inviting back door, my son will enter. He just won’t ever go through the front, where it would be a heck of a lot easier and more direct!

  4. Carol Wilcox Avatar

    On one level this made me laugh out loud. On another level, I want to cry. My sons desperately need a Shaun T. in their lives right now! So glad you are writing again! I miss your voice on the weeks you don’t slice!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s so hard, isn’t it? I see such amazing improvement in emotional well-being with more attention to physical well-being. I just hope I can find a way to keep this up!

  5. teachworkoutlove Avatar

    LOL i have totally done those videos!!! they are tough!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      They really are tough! I’ve lost a whole size in the six weeks we’ve been working out, so I would probably be a total Shaun T convert even if he weren’t my new imaginary BFF.

      1. teachworkoutlove Avatar

        Lol that’s so awesome !!! Congrats !!!!!

  6. Akilah Avatar

    This is excellent. And I’m totally sure Shaun T does value stretching & breathing with yoga. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out with a Hip Hop Yoga DVD next.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That’s what we need! Or maybe “Shaun T. Talks About His Feelings” or “Shaun T. Uses Many Regulating Techniques to Manage Himself” LOL. We’ve done yoga three times in the last week, though, so I am not complaining!

  7. annettepimentel Avatar

    Maybe Shaun T will be inspired by your post to do a Shaun T version of The Magic of Tidying Up…

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      This made me laugh out loud!

  8. nickybanz Avatar

    This is so awesome! Shaun T. sounds like really well-balanced individual. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Isn’t he great? No wonder I enjoy spending time with him!

  9. […] slice of life about my new imaginary BFF and parenting co-conspirator, fitness instructor Shaun […]

  10. shamimsobhani Avatar

    Rock on! Love your post. I do Shaun T’s videos all the time!

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