I’ve been having some serious craving lately, and they’ve been stressing me out.
Craving a new home. Craving a new town. Craving more leisure, and less leisure and more work and less work. Craving more space. Craving more social time, craving more time to be creative. Craving fucking peanut butter, because if there is going to be a food that I daydream about, its going to be gooey and pair well with everything from carrots to chocolate.
MMM, peanut butter.
But I digress.
I have noticed these cravings arise, and they almost surprise me with their velocity. All in all, my life is prettttty cool. I love Oakland, with its incessant 70 degree days and vegan coffee shop, and a recording studio for my podcast, and a trade-procured membership at the best gym ever. I love the neighborhood that I live in and I love my proximity to the friends I have here, and I love my job. I love large voluminous salads with produce all grown in my general region and picked that day.
But still, I fantasize about the desert and living someplace where I don’t know many people and can just write my book and formulate recipes. I fantasize about clearing my work plate entirely to focus for a year. I finish my salad and my spoon finds its way to the peanut butter jar. I notice these things and try not to be too bummed, because shit, its easy to want a different location, and more time, and richer food.
In the last couple of weeks I kept wondering what my job was. Not like my employment job, but my why-I’m-on-Earth job. I was torn between the constant battle of wanting to achieve more and wanting to enjoy more.
I love both feelings, but I don’t necessarily think one is synonymous with the other.
This morning, I left my alarm off (a true luxury) and let myself wake up whenever I happened to (6:08AM, for the record.) I pulled on my running shorts, laced up my shoes, headed out the door, and took my first running steps. As my pace picked up, I found myself thinkng:
My job is to stand in my power. My in-the-moment power.
My job is to find the response between stimulus and action. It could be the moment before I choose to feel frustrated about the administrative or mathematical sides of being self-employed. It could be right after my brain says “ITS PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME!”
Standing in my strength, to me, means the acknowledgement that I not only have the power to make positive and negative choices, but also that I have the power to enjoy my life or not. When I say “I wanted to do XYZ (let’s say XYZ is write) but instead I did ABC (cruised Facebook) because I juuuust couldn’t help it and now I feel terrible about my action”, well- that just downplays the fact that I am the one that chooses the things that I do and also that my choices help me to live a life of agency.
I get to choose what I do and how I feel about how I spend my time. This is a privilege that not everyone has, and I don’t want to give it away to craving.
If you are able, (like not in the face of horrible police brutality in Baltimore, or horrific natural disaster in Nepal, or not experiencing a similarly disempowering situation) I think its wise to OWN your life, in a serious capacity. Standing in your strength is the crux of that.
I just got home from my run, and now I’m asking myself : what would I crave, that I already have, if I didn’t have it? What can I appreciate and focus on right now?
And then, I’m challenging myself and I’m challenging you:
How can I hold on to what I appreciate?
What can I do to constantly find my strength, and what will I decide to do with it once I do?
And the new year is off with a bang!
The past few weeks have been extremely fun and also extremely busy. I am getting to know my new clients, writing new meal plans, and trying to take some hours of not-work (I’m not really in the days of not-work section of life yet) to take some deep breaths and remember that it is important for me to have time to unwind, too. I have found it difficult to pause, which is probably a perfect sign that that’s exactly what I need to do.
Here are some things I have going on:
I am catering this event on Friday, January 23rd in San Francisco and I couldn’t be more excited. Please expect your daily dose of probiotics, fresh coffee, perfectly creamy and fluffy vegan gluten-free quiche, and cinnamon zucchini bread muffins. I have been testing my recipes for weeks and I am very excited to share them with all 200 people who show up. (gulp.)
My band (Strays!) is happening, after a bunch of years of trying to make music with people. I havn’t ever been in a band, or really even collaborated artistically before and it has been liberating and vulnerable to try. Every time we practice my voice surprises me. Who knew I could be so loud!
And, perhaps most exciting of all, Super Strength Health is getting an office space, which is a perfect segue to our weekend reading links.
You know what gives me a giant emotional boner? Watching new vegan businesses pop up all the time. You know what else? When my friends are at the helm.
This Saturday, January 17th, my friends Holly Noll and Ed Bauer are finally opening up their all-vegan gym and café. The grand opening will feature a workout (that is optional if that’s not your thing!) Timeless Coffee, Samplings of Protein Donuts from FitQuick Cafe, a Presentation from Keegan Kuhn, director of the documentary Cowspiracy, and a fundraiser raffle with all the proceeds going to Animal Place, a sanctuary for farm animals in Grass Valley, California.
I am incredibly stoked to go to this event, but the cherry on the (coconut) whipped cream for me is that I have agreed to have an office space within PlantFit’s walls. Super Strength Health has grown exponentially since I opened my non-existent doors in June, and an office space is a little nerve wracking to procure, but also totally necessary. I couldn’t ask to be connected to better people and business, too, so hey. THE TIME IS NOW. It feels very cool to have such opportunity.
I FUCKING LOVE SARA SEINBERG. Let me just say that first.
Second: This article struck a real chord with me. Generally, I am a happy, supportive (and supported!) partner, friend, sister, and daughter. But I am not perfect. I am (perhaps overly?) sensitive and I have definitely known myself to let things grow and flourish inside before I speak up about issues that bother me.
Resentment is something that I have intermittently struggled with and I am definitely acutely aware that it effects me far more than it actually effects the person I’m pissed off at. I have used a few of the tools Sara discusses to get over my bullshit, but this article was a great physical reminder that when I am feeling interpersonally out of whack, I have much more control over my emotions than I might guess. A very worthwhile read.
“Saying “lifting weights will make a woman bulky” is downplaying the hard work and dedication it takes to be strong. It’s downplaying all those who aspire to build “bulk” (muscle) and strive for their own personal perception of being fit” –Sheri Stiles
There is so much misinformation, stereotype, and downright patriarchal attitude about women and weight lifting, and I’m not into it. I’m not into the idea that women shouldn’t bother putting on muscle because it isn’t “ladylike” to be “bulky.” I know not everyone wants to put hours of focus in the gym to get a ripped physique, and that’s TOTALLY COOL, but for the wild asses who DO (ahem, me.) we should not have to contend with archaic ideas about what’s correct for our bodies. Muscle is what people want when they say they want to look “toned” and MUSCLE IS BULK. This article gave me some great food for thought.
Have a great weekend!
I have never been what you might call a graceful person.
I love running, cycling, dancing, and yoga, but it takes some amount of effort for me to not fall on my ass when doing these things. (Also, there seems to be a direct correlation between how much I run and how often I’m injured. Anyone want to help me with that? SURE YOU DO.)
Despite spending years exercising until there wasn’t a single ounce of joy left in my workouts, I chronically hated my body. Some days, I donned my 24 Hour Fitness steed and thought “Am I going to have to do this every day for the rest of my life?” and the thought made me bawl. My body wasn’t “improving” the way I wanted it to, and I wasn’t getting that excited mental rush either. It seemed to me that I was the one person immune to the effects of exercise.
Luckily, my friend Ramsey started talking about CrossFit and I started Googling strength training. Before I ever lifted a barbell, I had something I hadn’t had in a long time: hope.
Strength training was the key to unlocking a lot for me. It unlocked a tangible way to measure my improvement as an athlete. (No matter how much I ran, I never really got any faster, so the mile PR was more of a mockery than a goal in my case.) It unlocked a new way to think about food and how it fueled me. It unlocked my body’s potential, both physically and aesthetically, and it unlocked something I had never had with other forms of exercise: natural talent. My big booty is built to lift.
A year into my weight training journey my body had drastically changed, and not in a way that I enjoyed. It grew and grew and grew and grew until I barely recognized myself anymore and it both startled and embarrassed me. I wanted to quit because I hated what seemed to be happening to my body as a result of weight training, but for whatever reason I decided I would wait another year. “If two years into doing this I still hate my CrossFit body, I’ll quit” I told myself, and then I kept lifting.
I am just now approaching that two-year mark and God, am I glad I waited. I love my body these days, like 96% of the time, and for a person that literally wanted to die at the thought of weight gain five years ago, I would say that is a tremendous and miraculous change. I know that this is from the result of a perspective shift (this work to reclaim a positive body image and raise my self esteem has been relentless and it has paid off) but also there’s science there. Let me explain.
I came to weight training from a background of exercise, but I actually had very little muscle (except in my calves, which have always been tremendously ripped for no apparent reason) and a fair amount of body fat. Once I started putting on muscle mass, I kind of just grew, without seeing any more definition for quite some time.
When I started lifting I was also in a process of repairing a deeply damaged relationship with food. I had consistently under eaten for many years, and when I started lifting that didn’t feel like an option any more. Once I was eating a reasonable amount for a person of my height and activity level, my body clung to calories like my life depended on it- probably because it did.
After about sixteen months of eating the food and lifting the weights things began to shift for me physically. My body seemed to trust that I would give it enough food and stopped holding onto weight in the same clingy way. (For a freaked-out former anorexic, let’s just say it was a really difficult 16 months). My metabolism started to run more efficiently, and the constant digestive troubles that I had experienced began to fade.
They say that the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns on a regular basis. My experience is that this is true, but that it doesn’t happen instantaneously. Initially, I was building muscle without necessarily diminishing body fat. As I ate consistently and continued to lift heavy my metabolic engine revved and I started to burn more body fat throughout the day. Now, when I look in the mirror, I can see that. It feels great.
Weight training has taught me a lot about patience and a lot about trust.
I no longer feel like exercise doesn’t work for my body, and I no longer believe that my body is trying to betray me in some way. I have learned that I cannot lift heavier until I get my form correct. I have learned that I need to work hard, but that I don’t need to feel like I am going to die after every workout.
I learned that exercise should be about using my body for joy. I don’t do anything because I “have” to anymore. I do it because I want to, and that’s a gift to my body. The natural motivation that springs from that is my body’s gift to me.
When I started writing this article I wanted it to be a guide to strength training for beginners. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that my journey was very specific, with trainers that I trust 100% and who I go to for advice time and time and time again, even after two years. I think it’s a great idea to have a coach, or at least someone to check your form now and again (a trainer, a friend who also lifts, etc.) BUT! I understand that is not everyone’s style or within the realm of everyone’s financial scope. In the absence of trainers I highly recommend that beginners check out Nia Shanks’ website. She has workout plans, instructional videos, and LOTS of advice for people who want to start weight training. She is body positive, and super thorough. Beyond that, my trainers suggest Starting Strength by Mark Rippletoe, Stronglifts, and for Olympic lifting help (my favorite!) Catalyst Athletics has some good resources online. Get to it and good luck!