I need to take a break from this blog for a bit. I need to reevaluate what I want from it and for it because for about the past year I feel like it – no I – have gotten really stagnant. Which isn’t fair to any of us! You guys deserve fresh, interesting, funny stuff and I deserve… well, I don’t honestly know at this point. This is the convergence of several things that have been brewing for a while:
1. I’m basically back to exactly where I started from. When I started this blog, I had just started my journey to health. I’d been doing a bodybuilder-type diet and running with some weight lifting for about a year prior. (At that point I was definitely one of those people terrified of the free weights who stuck to machines but hated them because they weren’t any fun yet knew I was “supposed to” lift weights so I did.) While my diet and exercise were both pretty bland, they worked and helped me drop the last 10 pounds of baby weight I was carrying.
But of course I wanted more! More weight loss, more strength, more speed, more… crazy? So I started this blog with the intent to try out every fitness and diet trend on the planet to find which ones worked the best. And I did that for about five years. What I learned is that pretty much every exercise program “works” and every diet doesn’t – meaning that you can increase your health and fitness with just about any exercise program you like and that for long-term weight loss and health most “diets” aren’t helpful.
During that whole discovery process, I went to allllll kinds of extremes (as many of you well remember). I dropped a ton of weight, ended up with an overexercising compulsion and made myself sick both mentally and physically. Then, with the help of medical professionals and you all, I have been in recovery for several years now. I think given my predilections for extremes I always be recovering but I am light years better than I was. I pretty much eat what I want now, listening to my hunger, and while I still work out about six days a weeks it’s now much gentler and shorter and I don’t freak out if I miss a day or two.
The net result is that naturally I gained back all the weight I’d lost doing this blog so I am pretty much the same size, weight, shape and fitness level as I was when I started on my mission to get my best body ever.
Yet rather than feeling like a failure for not achieving that goal, I feel like I’ve grown past it, in a totally different direction than I originally started out but so much growth nonetheless. I’ve learned A TON, starting with the fact that whatever body I have is the best because it’s awesome and helps me accomplish what I need to in life. I’ve also learned that there is no such thing as a perfect body and that spending all my time thinking, writing and manipulating my food/exercise to get it is a waste of time at best and deeply disordered at worst. And there’s all the fun workouts and interesting research I’ve learned to love! I’ve tried so many new things I might not have had the opportunity to do otherwise.
But the irony is that all those workouts and research led me back to nearly the same place I started from. While I knew deep down there wasn’t a magic elixir or exercise program I think I still hoped there was and if I could just read all the research and try everything I’d find the hacks I was looking for. I still want to be healthy and I will still keep doing the things that make me feel good but extreme “healthy living” is basically the new religion in our society and I just can’t be its evangelist anymore. Sometimes I feel like a fraud because I don’t want to think about diets and exercise and weight loss and everything that goes with it, all the time. (Which isn’t meant to be insulting to anyone who does want to think about those things – it’s just not the place I’m in right now.)
I don’t regret any of it but I also don’t want to keep spinning my wheels. There’s a huge, wonderful world to explore:)
2. My family. When I started this blog (in 2007… whoa!) my kids were teeny tiny and Jelly Bean wasn’t even born yet. I was a stay-at-home mom whose life revolved around nap schedules and potty training (important, for sure, but stultifying) and at that time in my life having a time for exercise blocked out every day was exactly what I needed. The Gym Buddies, who also all had tiny kiddos, were my lifeline and the gym was my social group, my therapy, my sanity saver, my entertainment and I will always be grateful for that. Those ladies and everyone else at the Burnsville, Minnesota YMCA saved me.
But now my kids are much older (12, 10, 8, 4) and have all the things that go with being an older kid. They don’t need me to wipe their butts anymore (THANK HEAVENS) but they need way more of my time, emotion and energy than before. Instead of them tagging along and being a part of whatever I was doing in my life, the roles are reversing and now it’s me tagging along as their lives expand and grow. Which is exactly how it should be and I want to be there whenever they want me to be because honestly I only have a few years left before they won’t always want me around.
Before, the hours seemed long and I needed a diversion from the monotony of little kids (sorry, yes, I said it) but now the hours fly by and it’s killing me to try and find time to fit in blogging. I don’t want to be sitting alone, clacking away on my keyboard, while they play without me. It’s too hard on me emotionally. I’m done saying “Just one more minute!” …for 60 minutes. Or staying up until 2 a.m. And I know that so many of you totally get this.
3. I’ve turned into a huge wuss. I don’t know if it’s just me being ultra sensitive or if things really are changing but it seems like all the cultural commentary has gotten so much more negative. We all stew in a culture of criticism and it permeates everything. I get so much more hate mail and comments than I used to and it just doesn’t roll off my back like it used to anymore. I used to just be able to shake it off (Oooh an angry person on the internet? Shocking!) but now it takes a lot out of me. It does hurt. And while I have so many amazingly kind and patient readers/commenters, the negative ones are the ones that seem to really stick with me. It’s not fair, it’s not right and I hate that my mind works that way. (It wasn’t always so) But it is what it is.
After that Isagenix debacle a few days ago, I was literally shaking and crying all day. People are needlessly cruel. They’re cruel not even to further their argument or make a point but just for the sake of being cruel. I hate feeling like there are so many people just watching and waiting for me to screw up so they can pounce. And it’s not just me, it’s everywhere. It seems like there’s a small group of people out there doing new things, trying stuff, having adventures, giving opinions… and also doing all the mistakes inherent with trying new things. And then there’s a much larger group who make their living waiting for the first group to screw up so they can have something to talk about. Nothing gets page clicks like righteous indignation. And while some things are genuinely worth getting mad over, it’s not nearly as many as we do. And I’m not putting myself above any of it – I’ve been on both sides and I’m tired of both.
All of which means that I often write from a place of fear these days. I worry over every word – Is this offensive? Is this funny? Is this thoroughly fact-checked? Is this grammatically correct? I anticipate which things people will object to and come up with a defense. Or I just write pablum that I know everyone will agree with. While obviously some of that is good and makes me a better writer (I welcome constructive criticism, always have) too much is just paralyzing.
This part probably sounds like a total cop-out and maybe it is (Waaah people are mean to me!) but I realized the other day that I’m choosing all of this. But I don’t have to keep choosing it. If I’m going to start complaining then it’s time to take a break.
All of this is so, so scary for me. This blog has been a lifeline to me so many times. I’ve gotten to be friends with SO many of you guys and you have brought so much beauty, wisdom and comfort into my life. And I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to lose you. I also don’t want to lose what I’ve worked so hard to build here.
Yet I know myself well enough to know that I need to write like I need to eat (actually a closer approximation would be to pee – you know how I love my bodily fluids!) so I’m keeping this blog up. But it’s going to change. I’m not sure exactly how – that’s what I’m taking a break to think about – and I anticipate I’ll lose a lot of you in the transition. But I have to be able to write what I love and that’s not always going to be health/fitness related. (Although let’s be honest, it’s been skewing farther and farther away from that for a year now.) I hope you’ll stay. I’ll understand if you don’t.
Maybe this is a huge mistake. But I need to stop being afraid of making mistakes. I can’t be open to new opportunities unless I’m willing to take a leap.
TL;DR: I’m tired. I love you. I need a break.
Someone on my other post asked about my lip color in this picture – I’m actually just wearing Dr. Pepper LipSmacker haha! Because I’m a middle schooler. And it’s yummy.
P.S. Yes, I still have my day job writing for Shape, SheKnows, Greatist, The Fix and other great sites. I write 3-8 articles a week for Shape and 6-10 articles a week for SheKnows plus other freelance work so there’s still plenty of me out there (not to mention 7.5 years of archives on this blog) but I will say that most people who read my articles on other sites are slightly disappointed. Since I’m writing for them, I cover their topics using their voice. In other words, you won’t find any beet-fueled bloody entrails over there;)
P.P.S. Mom, TL;DR means “too long; didn’t read”