2015 is coming to a close and I am kind of amazed. It has been a BIG, tremendous year for me personally, and also for both of my businesses. (This blog and my health and wellness coaching practice, of course- but also my podcast and personal training business, Rise and Resist). 2015 has easily been the best year of my life, and as it draws to a close I am feeling loved, full, satisfied, and, well…tired. Very very tired! This wonderful and tremendous ride has not come without effort.
I am thinking a lot about my public responsibility as a blogger, a writer, a coach, and a positive body image advocate. Super Strength Health and Rise and Resist have both been cathartic for me, in the way that they have offered me platforms to engage in honest dialogues around my life, my food and exercise choices, my eating disorder recovery, and my politics. In working with Super Strength Health and Rise and Resist, I have gained communication with those who say my recovery has inspired them to go after theirs. I have gained relationships with people I would not otherwise know. I have gained self-confidence from watching the direct impact my words have had on others.
Most of all, through these platforms I have gained a slew of people that I feel deeply accountable to. Of course I never wish to engage in any of the destructive eating disorder behaviors that I held so dear in the past again, but I would be lying if I said that I never had body image days. That negative thoughts don’t creep into my head and that sometimes giving into diet culture doesn’t look easier than fighting to both love my body AND nourish my mind. Once you have an eating disorder, it is very easy to fall back into negative thought patterns, actions, and habits. Scarily easy, really, because the longer ED bullshit sticks around, the more embedded it is as something almost comfortable to return to. The communities I have built by blogging and podcasting have given me an army of others to aid in telling those ED urges to fuck right off. I believe I have gleaned more out of writing this blog than any single person could gain from reading it. This little community here is a gift and I don’t take it for granted. Not for one single day.
All this said, I am also thinking about boundaries.
I have shared everything on this blog, and that has invited a whole slew of who-knows-who into my inner workings. I am actually fairly comfortable with this (I always liked diary style books as a kid and dreamed of having people give enough of a shit about my thoughts to want to read my journals, too). What I am less comfortable with, is the weight of expectation I have for myself in regards to my output.
You may have noticed things are a little quieter here than they used to be. When I started Super Strength Health I was DILIGENT about blogging three times a week (personal post on Monday, recipe on Tuesday, link round up on Fridays!) and I held myself to a high standard of keeping in touch because a lot of the time my blog was the little light that kept me going. I was working a job that I hated full time and commuting about 15 hours a week. I was deeply entrenched in starting up crossfit and loving to lift but HATING the way my body was changing as a result. I was dealing with anxiety and depression and writing and hoping and dreaming and building Super Strength Health was what kept me feeling sane, connected, and productive when there was little else I looked forward to.
As I said, 2015 was like a domino effect of awesome. In January, I got engaged to Kett, who just so happens to be my best friend in the whole world. In February I fell in love with olympic lifting and learned to check my ego at the door. (It is pretty hard to insist on heavy lifts every time you enter the gym when you’re working with something so technical that it is absolutely necessary to start out light.) As a result of less working myself into the ground day in and day out, my body changed. It started to look how I’d always wanted it to look, and I started to change my perception of what exercise means to me. I took more rest days and my body thrived.
In March Kett and I started re-tooling a book proposal we’d had in the works in 2013, with a little more direction and a little more aim. In April I passed my personal trainer certification and started Rise and Resist Podcast with Holly, who I’d known forever and always wanted to be friends with. Not only was our podcast well received, I gained an amazing new friend and confidant in Holly, someone I have learned to trust completely in and out of the gym.
In May, I spoke at Vida Vegan Con, and met so many people I idolized that it actually made my head spin. During my talk I felt strong and confidant and happy. Like speaking about my experience could be liberating and not nerve wracking.
In August, Kett and I got married and went to Kauai for two glorious weeks of beauty and wonder. There are no words for Kauai and the impact that it had on my life. For the first time in years, I didn’t work every single day of the week. In fact, I worked NOT AT ALL. Not on Super Strength Health, not on Rise and Resist, not on our book or anything else. Instead I spent the weeks hiking, swimming, making out with my forever dude, and thinking about lifetime commitments.
In September, Kett and I were handed our very first book deal and moved from my beloved Oakland to a less beloved, but still well-liked Portland, OR. I struggled with anxiety, and depression, and feeling adrift in Oregon. I didn’t know where to work out and I didn’t know which of the new people I’d met were going to be my friends. I wanted to use blogging to fight this depression as I had in the past, but I was struck with a new guilty thought: I just didn’t feel like I had anything to say. I wasn’t struggling in eating-disorder-low-self-esteem ways, I was struggling with homesickness and listlessness, and that was nothing I thought to be harrowing or even interesting. The sadness I felt was compounded by the guilt I felt for the emptyness of my blog space.
In November this article was published in Portland Monthly, and my business exploded in literally the best way possible. Just one little write up supplied me with the kind of clients I’d always wanted to work with. Fun people. Vegan people. Queer people. Body positive people. Those who’d struggled with eating disorders in the past, and those who’d always wanted to try fitness but were too afraid. Between this and actually working on my book, something shifted in me and I grew to have moments of love for my new city. It isn’t always perfect, and it’ll never be my love for the bay, but its getting more solid each day. Portland has some great people that really do a lot to combat the cold and the rain and the grey.
So back to boundaries.
Ever since the beginning of the year when my actual life picked up speed, I have consistently had a lot of feels about my lack of complete devotion to the blog. I felt an immense gratitude and responsibility to this space, and I felt like my readers deserved regular, well thought-out, specific content. And I also felt that due to my investment in my coaching clients, my book, and my podcast, I couldn’t give it all the love it deserved. Every time I came to this conclusion, two very distinct feelings came up: guilt and shame.
Guilt and shame have been driving forces in my life in the past. Some might say that guilt and shame inspired, propagated, and prolonged my eating disorder. It has certainly instigated a shit load of depression.
Super Strength Health started out as a space to help me become a person that doesn’t live according to their guilts and their shames. I am starting to cross my own personal boundaries when it becomes a tool that puts me back in the shame space, and so, just in time for the New Year, I am starting to let go.
This space will likely always have life. For reals, this is NOT a so long or a farewell! You don’t have to worry about that.
In 2015, I spent much of my time cultivating my drive to achieve. In 2016, my primary goals are around intuition, mindfulness, and ease. That will go into effect here by way of some less frequent posting, with hopefully more inspired content. I am liberating Super Strength Health from the shackles of “shoulds”, and because my readers are cool AF, I know its gonna be okay.
Sometimes, health can be more about loosening the reigns than tightening them! I know that will always be my eternal struggle, so shifting my expectations right here right now seems like a great place to start.
So! That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. What are your 2016 goals?
Holy crap, is there a lot of shit to love in my world right now. I am 15 days from grabbing my dude’s hand and putting a fucking ring on it, packing up boxes to move to Portland, booking tents and air B n’ B’s on Kauai because HONEYMOOOOOON, and generally leading an all around stoked life. I have been reading with some serious velocity lately, and I wanted to share the things I’ve been loving with you guys, because as far as I can tell, my readers are totally 100% my people. We like all the right stuff!
First, the real-life paper books:
On the Internet, broken into categories for your enjoyment:
Rookie Magazine AKA the most relatable thing I read that also happens to be geared toward people half my age:
Body Politics and Body Image:
Food, Exercise, and Mindfulness
And just for fun….
What have you been reading lately?
I feel good today! The barbell WOD got a new set of exercises this morning (the movements switch every 3-5 weeks) and I am really feelin’ the reintroduction of my good old friend, the stiff legged deadlift. My quads are burnin’ as I sit and type, and what can I say, I LIKE IT.
What else? My friend Raechel over at Rebel Grrl Living introduced a new series on her blog called Mindfulness Monday today. I loved the concept of this, not because I don’t try to be mindful every day, but because a lot of the time I just plain forget to pay attention to the world around me. I forget that waking up at 6:30AM to slay my workout with amazing coaches is a super rad privilege. I forget that my ninety minutes behind the barbell has done incredible things for my body and my mind. I don’t always stop to take deep clarifying breaths as I develop recipes, as I photograph images for the blog, as I connect with all the awesome people that the WWW has brought into my life. Taking Raechel’s cue to just fucking NOTICE what is going on around me is making the normal every day things that I do significantly more enjoyable today. Thanks Raechel!
Of course, it is nice to be mindful and notice the wonder of the world around me, but I think it is useful to be mindful about the less-savory experiences that we deal with on a day to day basis too. Speaking of such things, here is an (edited to protect myself from any legal weirdness that could possibly enter my life from disclosing the company/people involved) email that awaited me when I returned to my computer post-workout:
Spring has sprung! And it’s time to begin sporting sleeveless tops, shorts and skirts. Fitness expert and creator of the _ _ _ _ workout, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, would like to share effective arm and leg exercises that will tighten and tone in preparation for wearing our right to bare arms and legs spring attire. I’ve provided _ _ _ _’s tips and bio below.
_ _ _ _ _
Can we take a minute with this email? It’s benign enough, theoretically (if not incredibly bland and predictable in it’s tone). Generally, when I receive emails of this nature I just delete them, because wait, you’re asking me to advertise for your big company on my little blog for FREE? PSHAW. Because I was in the spirit of mindfulness though, I read the email slowly and really tried to take in the message that I was being delivered (and that I was being asked to deliver my readers.) One part of one sentence really struck me, and that was this: “…. would like to share effective arm and leg exercises that will tighten and tone in preparation for wearing our right to bear arms and legs.”
You’re asking me to support the concept that I need to change something for THE RIGHT to show my arms? And to tell my readers that they, too, have work to do before they can exist in public without shame?
I want to be honest, an absolutely wonderful perk of blogging is the free stuff you get. (Free food, free workout ideas, free swag) but never, and I mean never, will I sell the idea that my (or your!) arms don’t deserve to feel springtime air without augmentation. While my normal reaction to such an idea would be a swift eye roll, today I thought the more mindful thing to do would be to say this:
It’s getting warmer
Your arms and legs are perfect the way they are
No one can take away your right to live in your body.
Any idea that says otherwise is just patriarchy-
And no one likes they patriarchy, now do they?
Have a good Monday!