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?
So. Sometimes you intend to take a little break, and it ends up being an actually kind of large one.
I never meant to take so many weeks off of blogging, but life happened, and it was really big, and I kind of just had to participate. I have so many things to tell you about (I love my readers intensely, and truly missed writing here) but the abridged version is this:
I got married.
I went to Kauai for a glorious two week vacation.
I got my first book deal, a little something you will see on the shelves in the Summer of 2017.
I left my beloved Oakland. I am now an official, for-real Portland resident. There is a ton to say about ALL of these things, but first, I want to tell you about my wedding. I have some AMAZING pictures, from what truly was the best day of my life, and I am beyond stoked just thinking about the time we had. This post is long and picture heavy, but I promise, we will hop right back into fitness, feminism, vegan food, and all the other good stuff you have come to expect from my little corner of the blog-o-sphere really soon. I just had to share this first.
So first, let’s talk about getting ready. I am not a makeup girl. Like, at all. My face is generally bare, and half the time I sort of think I wanna be all fancy in the face and then I try to go about imagining how that would fit into my life and I feel a tremendous wave of overwhelm. For this reason I was STOKED to have a little help from my very talented friend, Lauren. I’m gonna be real, I felt really pretty on my wedding day, which is not a thing I have in my life a whole lot. (I usually feel more cute-goofy-tough-funny) It was nice to feel like the belle of the ball while people were celebrating my partnership around me. Although makeup can’t be an all-the-time thing for me, it is a definitely wonderful sometimes-accent. This is my friend Meg. She was my very first friend in college, and one of the first people to truly see the depths of my personality through very thick and very thin and still come out loving me. This is my crying my eyes out and saying “I am just so glad you’re here!”. I love my friends so much. If there are any wedding-day regrets I have, it is not getting a chance to talk to more of them more.
This is basically just a gratuitous calf picture. I work hard for my gunz and it shows mostly in the lower half of my legs. I’ll take it!
So, have you ever tried to put a dress on with a beehive and a full face of makeup? That shit is HARD. This is my mom and my sister helping me try to weasel my way into my wedding dress, and it very much not working. Laughs were had all around and finally I just kneeled down like a pauper being knighted while they lowered the dress down to the ground. Very classy.Like I said, more than ever in my life, on this day I felt really fucking pretty. It’s a good feeling!
Now, onto the wedding site!Kett and I were told we were supposed to do a “first look” to officially reveal ourselves in all of our wedding finery. Both him and I had a hard time wrapping our minds around having to conjure up emotions for the camera so early in the day, and decided that the only right way to do such a thing would be to have it take place in the matrimonial bounce house. I rolled up to the wedding site, waited a bit, and when I was given the okay, climbed my way into the bounciest carousel in all of Oakland. Where a very fly dude awaited my arrival. In case you couldn’t tell by the carousel, our wedding was super duper fun/carnival/block party themed. We had a bounce off, croquet, cornhole, a strongman high striker, bocce ball, horseshoes, and a potato sack race. Custom trophies were made. Table favors were red sun glasses, a button with our emblem (a flag with three hearts containing a barbell and a kale leaf, a cup of coffee, and a pencil and a paintbrush), old McDonald’s toys from the early 90’s, and a comic. Instead of flowers we had hollowed out dinosaurs with succulents.I immediately ripped my dress, of course, and strategically used my button to remedy the situation. You can paint a lady’s face and put her in a fancy dress, but that’s no guarantee that she’ll keep it clean and rip free!Costumes were very encouraged , and thus we had such esteemed guests as Boba Fett….Kamala Khan….…And a fantastically revealed Superman.Everyone basically looked amazing nailing the high striker.The bounce-off was so intense it was kind of hard to watch.
But nothing beats the potato sack race. NOTHING.This dude managed a double somersault and STILL came out victorious.Have I mentioned how amazing my friends are?Okay, so here’s the deal.
Kett and I didn’t know the exact moment we were to be wed. We entrusted our best friend with a wedding horn and asked her to give it a long and loud toot when she felt it was time for some sweet words and legally binding contracts. An hour or two into the ceremony, Monica blew the horn and Kett and I darted to the vista where we were to be officially wed.While Kett and I got a head start, our MC, Nishat, waved the flag and assembled the troops.A parade was lead up a little hill….where we waited, trying not to cry. Then, maybe the best part of the whole day, I got to talk about Kett.I love this man.
I love that he is patient, and has integrity and makes me laugh. I love that he supports me, and calls me on my shit, and let’s me cry when I need to. I love that we make art together. I love that I plan to become an old ass lady by his side, and that we can seal the deal with a tremendous high five.And a smooch, of course.HUZZAHHHH!Neither Kett nor I drinks or really likes cake, so the whole dessert thing was kind of a conundrum. After trying multiple non-cake dessert ideas, we came to what seemed like an obvious answer: coffee and donuts. Nothing says “love” more than donuts, especially when they are vegan and gluten-free.
Thank you so much for sticking with me through the long break, and the immediate schmoopy love fest. I am very much ready to be back in action around these parts, and can’t wait to write all the things that have been swimming around in my head for the past 8+ weeks.
Until next time!
(All photos by Holly Feral )
HI! I am writing to you from four days away from my wedding, six days away from my honeymoon, and about a month away from moving to Portland. I am (clearly) counting down the days in some ways, but in other ways I am so so happy right this second. These are the last few weeks I have in my beloved Oakland, and I am not taking them for granted. I love my life here. I love California. I love being close to my family, even if I don’t see them as much as I’d like, and I love being close to the ocean- even if I don’t see that much either. It has been a great five years back in the bay, and I am not forgetting just because I am about to leave.
Maybe this is a sign that I am actually becoming an adult (at age 31- late bloomer, perhaps?) but this is maybe the first time in my life that I am completely happy in a place and that I also know that it is time to go. Things are changing rapidly in the bay area, and the flow of the whole process is definitely nudging me to move elsewhere. My partner and my best friend have been here for years, and neither has ever really been thrilled with the place in general. I feel like I’ve watched them grow relatively sullen with their California prospects in a number of ways, and I’ve fought it, been pissed at them for not loving this place as much as I do, been sad that they can’t be on my same page, and then just accepted it. My family is unconventional, but they are still my family. If the fam is unhappy, it makes sense to move forward.
It’s a strange and unique feeling, this plain acceptance of what is. I kind of like it, because it just makes my life so much easier when I am not fighting tooth and nail to make things try to be the way I would like them to. As a person who has spent a lot of time taking care of themselves, it is truly marvelous to relinquish a little control.
Because Portland is good too.
Because I have an amazing apartment waiting for me there.
Because there is much possibility in change.
Because shaking shit up is occasionally good for the spirit, right?
On that note, I am taking a break! A break from working with clients, a break from podcasting and a break from blogging until September first. I haven’t taken a two day break from this job that I love so dearly in the two years that I have been doing it, and so I imagine two weeks will feel like an amazing, difficult, and much needed eternity. In the meantime, I want to tell you to find your body positivity at Rebel Grrl Living and The Militant Baker, and if you have time, read this article over at No Meat Athlete. It resonated with my personal life more than I expected, and is exactly what prompted me to keep my two week honeymoon completely work and regimen free.
I shall see you all upon my return!!!!!!