A Worthy Opponent

(Edit: don’t worry, Mom, everything is fine!)

Just for Today, I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life-problem at once. I can do some things for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt I had to keep them up for a lifetime.

– Frank Crane

Last week, I recognized that I had slowly sank into a depressive state. It was nothing scary, dramatic, or cause for alarm. I was simply noticing that every morning it was increasingly harder to get out of bed, every day it was tougher to focus at work and to stay on task, and I found myself avoiding texts and calls and flaking on events, preferring to sit alone in silence. As much as I love my alone-time, I could tell that this particular alone-time wasn’t restorative. If you were to talk to me during this time, you would probably have no idea. I’m able to be exuberant and engaging in front of people, then close the door and allow everything to shut down.

It took me a while to recognize this as depression. It feels so different than what I had experienced in the past. Instead of the dark cloud of hopelessness that told me to just give up, this is sort of a blanket of fatigue and fuzziness. It’s warm and comforting but at the same time wholly unnatural. I should want to do things I enjoy doing. I should want to get up and enjoy my peaceful mornings during these long summer days. I should want to call and meet up with my friends. But I simply kept saying “no” to myself. That I was too tired. That it wasn’t the right time. That what I need is to be alone right now. When in all actuality, being alone is the absolute worst thing for depression.

The hardest thing in the world to do when you’re in a depressed state is to reach out. The phone weighs a million pounds, and coffee with a friend is far too daunting of an operation to try and coordinate. You battle the demons that tell you that you’re really okay, and you don’t want to burden anyone else with your troubles, and all your friends are super busy and you’d had to interrupt them. But I know if it were me that my friend is calling and telling me they’re having a rough time, I will drop everything to be there. I know now how important it is. So I made the call, my friend and I had a gorgeous hike as we talked stuff out, and my load feels so much lighter now. I was able to clear some of the space to “do the next right thing,” as Glennon Doyle says.

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And this new-to-me trail we discovered did not suck.

I still have work to do. We always will. And sometimes just picking up the phone and taking that first step to say, “this is really hard right now” is the hardest.

If you suffer from depression, or even from something and you don’t even know (or want to know) what to call it, you’re not alone. It’s a frustrating, deceptive disease that I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to get on top of. I gladly accept this challenge, because I know I am a worthy opponent.

Go make it a great day, kids!

If you are struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, do not hesitate to call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

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Jet Lag and Playing Small

Hello and happy Wednesday! I’m still recovering from jet lag over here. I just returned from my surprise work trip to Sydney, Australia on Sunday, and though it’s 5:15am here on the U.S. West Coast, my brain and body want me to believe it’s actually 10pm. I am quickly running out of coffee. Send provisions.

But my trip was AMAZING. Most of it was work, but I stayed an extra day so I could do some touristy things. I would have felt shattered if I didn’t travel to the other side of the planet and not see at least ONE koala.

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Also, the hotel I stayed at had hands-down the most awesome hotel gym ever. It was actually a REAL gym/health club that hotel guests could use for free. I forgot how nice it was to have a gym in the same building!

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I am SO NOT COMFORTABLE with public gym pics

Okay, time for some real talk, y’all. The past few years have been tough. I started this blog seven (!!) years ago with the intention of defining myself as a “fitness” person. I thought that if I blogged about my workouts and diet I would magically become all fit and healthy and find a voice and tribe and be a prominent leader in the blogosphere. I absolutely love and enjoy reading blogs, and writing for my own is super fun for me. But I get hung up on the wrong things. I constantly get swept up in the comparison trap, trying to mimic the bloggers I admire when I’ve never been one to fit in any sort of mold. I immediately jump to “oh, I should monetize my blog and try to make money, or it’s not worth my time,” instead of enjoying the process as a hobby for what it is. And worst of all, I get stuck in Impostor Syndrome, feeling that I have nothing of value to share, and “what do I think I know” and “who do I think I am” and all the other crazy negative self talk that comes with trying to lay the guard down and put yourself out there.

The truth is, I think about blogging every. single. day. In my head, I narrate events in my life for a future post. But that post is rarely written. And often, I half-write a draft and it just sits there until it’s no longer relevant and I end up deleting it. I just don’t make the time. And quite honestly, I’m scared to, as well. I’m scared to be real about my struggles and faults and Real Life stuff. Because I don’t like only showing the glossy good days and upsides; it’s not real, and you deserve real. You deserve to read something relatable and authentic, because there’s enough of the “everything is amazing and look how awesome I am” content out there. And the biggest of all, I’m tired of hiding parts of myself. I’m tired of separating and isolating the “personal me” with the “public me” with the “professional me”. While there is a line between what’s personal and what’s intimate, and there is a time and a place for disclosure and sharing, I am tired of being so cautious about how I present myself here, in my own freakin’ space on the internet that I pay for. I shouldn’t be afraid to be honest with who I am and what I’m up to. I’m tired of playing small.

I want to blog more. Whether I actually get down to making the time for it or not is yet to be witnessed. But I wanted to throw it out there, see what the Universe has in mind for this little corner of the internets. Odds are pretty good that I’ll keep writing half-draft posts every month or so that never see the light of day. Or maybe my blog will take a new direction, with whatever inspiration comes my way. Whatever the case, if you made it reading down this far, thank you for hanging in there with me while I sorted out my thoughts.

That was a lot. Here, I will share an amusing meme with you that I had posted to Instagram last week:

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source

Now go make it a great day!

Trust the Process

Breaking my Social Media Break for a “life events” update. Don’t worry, it’s good news!

Back in early January, my company was acquired and I was laid off as part of the merger. You know, because of course. Thanks, Universe.

But as my dear friend Brittany said, the Universe wanted me to have a clean slate. And apparently I work better with eviction notices anyway! I chose to not stress too much, and to just see where this journey takes me.

I made sure to view this time as an opportunity to hang with my kids more, discover a new yoga practice, plan more lunch dates and hikes around the lake with friends, and do some of the stuff I couldn’t do before while working the 9-5. Like napping. Omg, #bringingnapback

And I hit the job search hard. I had many wonderful friends offer contacts and leads, and I just had fun with looking back at all the things I loved about my career so far, all the fun stuff I got to do and the cool people I had the pleasure to work with, and just enjoyed the process for what it was: a chance for me to unabashedly brag about myself!

The fruits of my unemployed labor were soon rewarded when I received not one, but TWO incredible offers. Really great opportunities that I knew I would totally enjoy being a part of. It was a very difficult decision to make (I may have cried a bit), but after completing my first day in my new role, I feel like I made a great choice, and I can’t wait to dig in deeper with what they have in store for me.

Now, it wasn’t all puppies and rainbows and freshly baked bread. There was more than one moment that I wondered how I would pay rent next month, and let’s just say I’m a leeeetle bit in credit card debt right now. But I kept faith that things would work out, that just enough money would be there when I needed it, and I just needed to trust in the process and know that it’s being taken care of as long as right now I do the next right thing. Because if I chose to stress and freak out, it wouldn’t change the amount in my bank account, or help me ace that interview. My situation was going to remain my situation whether I laughed or cried. And I do love a good laugh.

If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that life happens for a reason. Sometimes drama happens and it’s hard and it sucks and it’s not what we want, but it gets us to where we’re supposed to be going, as opposed to where we think we should be. And the more we fight the process and the circumstance, the more we miss the simple joys and the lessons it has the potential to give us. There is purpose to the pain.

Trust the process. Trust the pitfalls. Trust that the crap going on in your life right now is there for a reason, even if the reason is to remind you how much you hate crap. Maybe if that’s your context, it’s time for a change?

Go make it a great day, kids.

Awesomely Average

For some reason, I’ve been fearful of writing lately. After some refection, I think I understand why. The fear comes from perfectionism. Not that I’ll fail, but that I won’t be perfect. Exceptional. That I’ll end up in the dreaded average. Who wants to be average? I either want to be amazingly inspiring, or so horrendously ill equipped that my cautionary story of How I Attempted Exceptional and Failed Spectacularly is a source of future amusement. Does it really need to be one or the other? I used to say, “epic good, or epic fail!” in jest, but now it’s become more of a life motto than an amusing meme. What is up with my avoidance of Average? So far all it’s doing is preventing me from living life and doing what I enjoy.

There’s nothing wrong with average. It’s comfortably in the middle. It’s unassuming. It’s where the power can lie in wait, recharging for the next surge. Average gets stuff done. It’s still progress. Average sets the standard. As David Letterman said, C’s still get degrees.

Our culture wants to reward the overachievers, the “greatests,” because they’re an inspiring story. And it’s super fun to be the winner on top of their game. Everybody loves a winner, and the prizes are fabled to  be great, even if the prize is “Congratulations! More work!” But the average is also rewarded – with lack of resistance. You just move forward to the next step. If I’m an average parent, my kids still grow up right. If I’m an average employee, I am likely to keep my job. If I’m an average powerlifter, I can still move and lift heavy-ish things. Average can still keep me moving forward without all of the effort and stress Exceptional requires.

Of course I don’t want to get stuck in a rut. But average isn’t a rut if it’s just a place I’m hanging out in for a while as I catch my breath and my bearings. Nor is it complacent; eventually I’ll get bored of Average and want a challenge. And then Exceptional will take the stage, and we do the dance again.

Average. Moving things progressively forward since the first caveman looked at his cave painting and said, “Meh, good enough.”

Mind Your Own (Body) Business

I’m 5’0″ and currently I weigh 154 lbs.

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PC: Zachau Photography

I’ve always carried more weight on my frame than the BMI calculations for my height would recommend. The only time in my life I was in the “green zone” on the BMI calculation was when I was in college, racing bicycles competitively and barely got down to 128 lbs from riding 20-25 hours a week and restricting calories. Oh, and I was bulimic. And severely depressed. But obviously I was healthy, because I was fitting into size 6 jeans for the first time in my life, right?

Today, I am the heaviest I’ve been, aside from my pregnancies. And I couldn’t be happier about my body. Because now it’s not about what I look like; it’s what I can do with what I got that I find fulfilling and puts me in awe on the regular. It’s taken decades of hating myself because I didn’t look like what others told me I should look like. It’s taken months of self-care, soul searching, and paying attention to myself. It’s taken getting my depression under control and accepting that I am a good and worthy person who deserves health and is healthy. It’s taken owning my choices, and making those choices based on what I believe to be good for me and what I want, and not what others or the media tells me what I should be doing. I’m rocking my own road and living my own life, just like what my blog byline says. I am not perfect, but I make progress, and I am happy to do so.

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And doing yoga on the beach in a swimsuit and giving zero effs about it

My only wish is that others can be happy and comfortable with their bodies, doing what they love and loving what they do.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that still struggles with the concept of “beauty at any size.” The “right,” socially-acceptable body structure is so closely tied with morality that we have a culture that supports, or at least turns a blind eye to, body-shaming. We look at people that are “too fat” or “too thin” (because that is totally an objective measurement, right?) and immediately judge them. It’s okay to leave a mean comment about what I think they look like. Clearly, they don’t realize how they’re being perceived. They must not care about themselves. How stupid/sick they must be, to not know what they need to do to look “normal”? Just put down the fork/eat a sandwich/stop lifting because you look too bulky. Because I am offended and concerned about how I perceive the way you look, and now I make it your problem.

I must confess, I am a former fat-shamer. I would see overweight people and think, “how could they not care about their health?” Because clearly that was the only logical conclusion. And of course, their health is totally my business (sarcasm level at an 11 right there). Never mind the decades of terrible diet advice the public has been fed. Or the fact I know nothing about this person or their life, how they might be working a full-time job and caring for an aging parent at home, or how a bad knee or lack of accessible physical activities that are varied and enjoyable might make fitness extremely difficult. What, you mean not everyone wants to slog it out on the elliptical 30 minutes a day, five days a week?!? Shoot me. (And if you love the elliptical, that is awesome and you keep doing you!)

And especially with females, body-shaming women just promotes the objectification of women. Because society dictates that as a woman, it’s my duty to look a certain way so I am attractive and pleasing to the eye. If I’m too fat, or too muscular, or too tall, or too thin, or not whatever is considered “right” to look today, it’s uncomfortable for others to look at me, and I’m not holding up my end of the bargain on being a woman. This type of thinking puts me in so much rage I’m just going to end this thought here with a big load of baloney. Because this is such baloney.

 

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RAGE!!

 

Finally, there’s the “health” argument. The argument that if you’re over- or underweight (especially overweight), then you are unhealthy, and that’s wrong because your lifestyle will cause others pain down the road as your body gives out and others have to take care of you, either financially or with caregiving. To which I have one comment:

MY HEALTH IS NONE OF YOUR G*DD*** BUSINESS. AND YOUR HEALTH IS NONE OF MY G*DD*** BUSINESS.

Bob Harper, most notably known from his work as a personal trainer on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, recently suffered a heart attack. He’s an extremely fit person, and he almost died from a heart attack that nobody, least of all him, saw coming. Meanwhile, a Dutch study came out that people that are considered “overweight” on the BMI scale actually live longer lives than “normal” weight people. I cannot possibly know a person’s health history from their pants size. Fit-looking people might have cancer, and overweight people could go on a 12-mile hike and hike circles around me. I don’t know, and what’s more, IT’S NONE OF MY G*DD*** BUSINESS ANYWAY. Neither is it yours.

A couple years ago, Noelle Tarr from Coconuts and Kettlebells wrote a post that broke the internet in the paleo/health-sphere when it was featured on the Whole9 blog, called “Why I Don’t Want Six-Pack Abs.” She received an alarming amount of criticism from this post, from people who argued that if you don’t have a six-pack, you must not be working hard enough, and if you don’t want to work hard for your physique then what are you doing? SMH. This just illustrates my point that our culture is way too looks-obsessed, totally ignoring the person underneath the abs. Obviously with the personal measurements I gave in my opening sentence, you can be assured that I do not have a six pack. I have no desire for the work it takes to get one. Because those are my priorities, and this is what makes me happy. If you prioritize the diet and training it takes for your abs and are happy with it, again, that’s awesome and you keep doing you! But it is so not me, and the work it would take would make me miserable. That doesn’t make me lazy or unworthy or weak. It makes me different. Which is totally okay.

We are all on our own journey. Sometimes that journey takes us to a health-focus, sometimes it doesn’t. That is no reason to shame or hate on others. You are not bad because you don’t do what I do or think how I think, and the same goes for me. Be kind to yourself. Then be kind to others. That is how the world is supposed to work, I think.

Go make it a great day.

Shoutout to Steph Gaudreau’s article on Stupid Easy PaleoMind Your Own Body: An Open Letter to Body Shamers” for inspiring me to finally get these thoughts out that I had been keeping silent for way too long. And if this content speaks to you, check out a free pass to Steph’s Women’s Strength Summit May 15-21!

 

The Same 24 Hours

I am a bit crazy. I know this. Most people that know me personally know this. And the past week of crazy has been no exception.

So, my whole family has been out of town for two weeks, leaving me all alone at home and left to my own devices. Okay, I still have Olive and the fish to care for. But basically I just have to worry about me. For two whole glorious weeks!

At first I came up with huge lists of all the things I was going to accomplish. Clean the whole house and actually keep it clean! CrossFit every day! Hang out with all the friends! Read all the books! Maybe even watch that new Netflix series everyone is talking about!

You know what happened? None of the above. Because I still have the same 24 hours in a day as I did before, just with less distraction and small human chasing.

I did take Olive on a lot of walks, and I started trail running a bit (OMG the first time I started running on the trail with Olive, she looked at me like I just invented Christmas: “what, we’re going to run?!? For real?!? Sign me up, let’s go BEST DAY EVER!!!”), and I have some big projects coming up that I got started on, but the normal daily routine really didn’t deviate too much. Which leaves me with the big realization that when it comes to time management, I am my own worst enemy.

My schedule, they way I structure my day, and my life choices in general is 100% in my control. Sure, stuff might come up, but overall I get to choose what I put in my day, and how I react when things go off-plan. Without having my family around to distract me, I had to face the music that I’m not running late because of packing school lunches and cleaning mashed sweet potatoes off of various surfaces. I’m running late because I am still trying to cram too many activities into an already richly-scheduled day.

This brings me back to some advice my boss and mentor gave me when I started my first “real” job out of college: there will always be more work to do. No matter how late you stay or how many to-do list items you scratch off, there will always be more waiting for attention. The sooner I can accept the fact that I will never be “done,” the sooner I can stop making myself crazy for all of the unfinished business I have yet to attend to and enjoy the other things in life.

 

I think the next stepping stone on the path to happiness for me is really accepting and embracing the fact that I will not be able to do all the things, and that’s perfectly all right. For now I can do the one thing that needs to be done, do it the best I can, and move on. Maybe that’s something for me. Or it could be something for someone else. There is no law that says everything has to be done every day or else certain doom will result. That’s just the one I make up in my own head. Let good enough be good enough, and take time out to enjoy the journey.

Go make it a great day!

Get After It (In Your Own Special Way)

Monday morning I was scrolling through Instagram while procrastinating on getting out of bed. It was the dawn of the new week, and I was feeling “a case of the Mondays” come on. It would be another week of my richly-packed schedule, catering to the demands of job, small humans, and whatever my body decides to throw at me this time (a resurgence of hamstring tendonitis and mild depression? Sure, why not!). To put it mildly, I was not wholeheartedly looking forward to getting out of bed.

I happened on a post by Katrin Davidsdottir, two-time Crossfit Games champion and Fittest Woman on Earth.

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The caption caught me. “Don’t understand the ‘ugggh’ feel that is generally put on Mondays .. I get such a ‘get after it’ feel”

How great would it be to wake up Monday morning and feel like “heck, yeah! Get after it!”

WHO DOES THIS?

Predictably, some of the comments reiterated my sentiment – “Easy for you to say, you get to work out all day instead of work a 9-5!” “Sure, tell me that when you have several small children to look after!” “Not all of us can be as lucky to travel around and live their dream.”

Wait, what?

First of all, let’s remember that social media is a highlight reel, not real life. Sure, Katrin gets to work out for a living, but she’s probably always sore and something is always hurting. She gets to travel a bunch, but that’s more time away from friends and family. Even the pressure of being the reigning “Fittest Woman on Earth” is probably tough some days, feeling like you have to always perform and live up to others’ expectations.

Despite a grueling training schedule, travel demands, and the stress of being a celebrity CrossFit athlete, she posts that she gets up Monday to “get after it.” This is drive. This is positive attitude. And anyone can do this.

Despite the pressures of my 9-5, feeling like I never have enough time for my family, and the stress of modern life, there is no reason I can’t find the joy in this life I have built for myself and wake up feeling ready to conquer the day. It’s just a mindset shift. And if something isn’t working for me and I’m unhappy, it’s my responsibility to figure out what I can do to make myself happier, whether it’s changing my outward circumstances or changing my inner dialogue on how I view the world around me.

Don’t fall down in the victim mind trap. However it seems like, when it comes down to it you control your life and you control your destiny. Wake up committed each morning to “get after it” even if you overslept and missed your 6am WOD and now you’re running late for your early meeting and your toddler just painted the wall with the contents of her diaper again and you ran out of bread to make your preschooler’s sandwich for lunch again so he’s getting rolled up turkey and a handful of tortilla chips because at least it’s food and dammit we are out of coffee again WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME SO NOT FAIR … but you know that this is just a moment in time and things are actually going pretty good and everyone will get where they’re trying to go eventually. Grab a Starbucks on the way to work, crank up the Kansas oh so very loud, and embrace the fact that you are indeed getting after it in your own special way!

Go make it a great day! xoxo

Monday Mindfulness: Be Here Now

Back in 2010, when I was still racing bicycles competitively, I attended a cycling workshop hosted by professional cyclist Giana Roberge. During one of the clinics, we were working on some pretty intense drills to work on building our stamina during power moves such as time trials and climbing, where you need to be throttling it at your absolute max for a long time. To red-line your power output like that is just as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. The entire time you are fighting with your brain to keep mashing the pedals, while your whole body seems to be screaming that you need to stop. One of the things Giana suggested to help keep us motivated during this time was to identify a manta or phrase that we could repeat to ourselves during the effort that was inspiring and could distract us and keep us focused to push our limits. Her suggested phrase was, “be here now.” All that exists in this moment, right now, is for the pedal to get one more powerful turn, for my lungs to get in one more good suck of air, for me to pull myself out of the saddle just one more time. Do not think about the discomfort, about how I could be just sitting at home watching Netflix right now, or what I plan on doing when I get home, or anything that could distract me from giving it my all right now. Be here now, in this moment, giving it everything, because that is all that matters.

Six years later, and I am still repeating that phrase to myself, although it’s morphed to take on new meanings and manifestations since being on the bike. I say it to myself before I go into an important meeting, to focus on the content I have prepared and to not guess or predict what my client’s reactions will be. I say it to myself in between reading my toddler bedtime stories and tucking her into bed, so I can savor the short moment of one of the “good parts” of parenthood and not rush off to continue my own activities for the evening. Most recently, I say it to myself when I start planning to-do lists and big, overachieving projects I know I don’t really have the time or energy to initiate let alone actually complete.

Often I have felt in a goal-achieving funk. In the past couple years I’ve had to deal with a lot of Life Stuff that has taken up a good chunk of my time I used to spend working on my hobbies and goals. I feel like I haven’t had the focus or energy to put into the big, hairy goals I want to make happen next in my life. The other day I was looking for a book when I stumbled across some of my old planners from several years ago. Out of curiosity, I opened a couple to see what my long-term goals were back in the day. Out of habit, I always jot down my current 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals in the back pages of my planner, just for inspiration and visualization on days when I feel a little demotivated. Imagine my surprise when I realized that almost every 1- or 5- year goal I had written down – run a marathon, complete my family (2 kids!), work as a professional consultant, live in a big city, buy a “forever” home – I’ve done. These things just seemed to happen in my life at the time that seemed right, there was no “project plan” or obvious hard work or muscling it up that occurred to manifest these things. At some point I realized it was something I wanted to do, I wrote it down, and just kept working hard on the stuff I knew how to do. And magic happened, and I didn’t even realize it, because I was so focused on my plans for the future; I almost missed the “now.”

That’s not to say I didn’t work or plan for these things. But from the moment I dreamed up a goal, I had absolutely no plan or idea how I would make it work. It’s just something I knew I wanted. Then when time was right and opportunities presented themselves, I figured it out. But all the while, I was still planning and organizing the future, without stopping to look at the current. I forgot to “be here now.” And it stressed me out, making me feel like I cannot get it together and I did not have enough focus to make things happen. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I just was too focused on making it happen rather than allowing it to happen, trusting that if I continued to work and act in a way that made me the person I wanted to be, the things I wanted to experience would come along shortly. Time and again, things have worked out for me when I least expected them to, and I can trust in that pattern.

Life has taken me on some really crazy detours, but they have always brought me around to the place I’m meant to be in the end. I’m starting to let go of my control-freak nature and just allow and trust things to go where they need to go as long as I’m doing what I feel like I need to do. Some would say this is sort of “let go and let God sort it out” sort of thinking. I see it as reducing the amount of crap I keep thinking about that I can’t control anyway, which frees up some brain space for just the crap that is in this moment. To “be here now” and let go of all of the stress, worries, and fears that Later might bring. Letting go of that control is sort of scary at first, like I’m just going to tailspin into the Land of No Forward Progress and Complacency, as if that’s a real thing. But the opposite is true. When I can truly let go and enjoy the moment, I feel as if the possibilities are endless. I have the capacity to do anything, without all of the weight of worry and control on my back. To “be here now” is such a feeling of freedom in this moment.

Why I’m Taking a Social Media Break (not just because I’m nuts)

My brain doesn’t work. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Literally, my brain does work somewhat spectacularly. I don’t have to think too much about breathing or beating my heart, I can usually remember my kids’ names, and I can probably out-daydream anyone I know, except perhaps my sister Amanda. But as most moms can tell you, after kids your brain sort of goes “poof!” and suddenly trying to remember spare details of life such as where you put your purse or that you have an important meeting 9:00 Monday morning just doesn’t happen. Even stuff that occurs routinely, like Wednesday is trash night, just escape me. From who I was before having kids, this has been by far the biggest adjustment to try and deal with, the fact that my brain just can’t keep up with my life anymore.

Or can it?

Sleep deprivation is the most likely and most-cited culprit in Baby Brain. I mean, we are not made to function on four broken hours of sleep a night for months on end. Squish took a while before he was sleeping through the night enough to give me a decent rest. Buttercup, however, was one of those miracle babies that settled into a solid, predictable schedule right off the bat and was sleeping through the night in just a few months. I’ve had over a year of not really feeling like “oh I have a baby” is a justified excuse for poor sleep, since my own choices are now affecting how much time I get in bed more than my tiny, demanding humans. Finally owning up to this fact, I began do my best to get to bed on time, practicing good “sleep hygiene”,  and sleeping in if I feel like I need it. The past four months I’ve really improved my sleep, averaging 7:30 per night. While I have noticeably more energy and vast improvement on my overall mood, my brain still feels spacey and not really like it’s on it’s game.

Now that Whole30 has given me a good template for my diet, I’ve been more active with CrossFit, and my sleep is under control, so with the main factors of cognitive degradation under control I started exploring more options on how I can improve my mental performance. I was flirting with the idea of a social media detox of sorts, maybe doing a “SocialMedia30” of sorts where I abstain for a month. My totally inspiring bestie Alexis just embarked on her month media-free, which put the bug in my brain even more. But 30 days without social media is a bit drastic right? I mean, it’s not just a way to distract for me; this is how I share pictures of the kids with my grandma and stay in touch with friends that live abroad. Clearly I don’t misuse my online connections, do I?

There’s really only one way to find out: that dreaded “awarenes”.

Curious, I downloaded the Moment app, which tracks your phone usage. You guys, I’m spending on average about 2 hours a day on my phone. Two. Hours. I couldn’t believe it. I complain so much about not having time, about wanting to cram 30 hours into a 24 hour day, and here I am spending two hours a day on Facebook or who knows what.

And it’s not just Facebook. It’s Beyond the Whiteboard app where I record my CrossFit workouts and compare myself to my gymmates. It’s My Fitness Pal and the Up app that syncs with my Jawbone, where I load my sleep, food, and exercise data … and compare myself to the other users in the community and browse blog posts. It’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Yelp, my Feedly blog feeds, all of the apps that I don’t really need, but I find myself checking ever day, just because they’re there. And that’s not it. There’s all of the newsfeeds I subscribe to through email, with article links and other “healthy” tips that jam up my inbox and feed my brain with data.

What if I don’t have Baby Brain? What if my recent decline in cognitive abilities is because of the barrage of media consumption I subject myself to on a daily basis? Thinking about it: when I had Squish, the only social media I engaged in was Facebook, and I had just found out blogs were a thing. I don’t remember spending my free time sitting on my phone, except to put together a new iTunes playlist or read emails. Now, I am consistently turned onto all the things that are supposed to “connect” me. Connect me to whom? Not my Grandma. And then there is all the IM: the texting, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts. I’m constantly getting pings and notifications and reminders, and my brain cannot turn off.

Maybe I don’t have Baby Brain. Maybe my brain is just done with all of this extra stimulation.

The final straw was when I read this Fast Company article about the brain that I ironically ran across in the latest email newsletter from Dallas Hartwig. And it blew. My. Mind. The article, titled “Your Brain Has A “Delete” Button—Here’s How To Use It” took what I knew about your brain and sleep – as in, you need sleep for your brain to work – and took it a step further to explain how your brain uses sleep to “clean up” stuff, and more importantly, describes that your mindfulness and the things you focus on tells your brain what to clean up and what to repair. So when I’m looking at Instagram 326 times a day, I don’t remember what was decided on in that budget meeting I lead last week, but I do remember that funny meme or the wicked workout that <insert CrossFit Games athlete I follow> did yesterday. Because that’s what I’ve told my brain is important information to retain. Clearly important facts!

So I’m going to give this social media detox a shot. I’m going to go 30 days social media free, and see if/how my cognitive abilities improve. Here are the rules I am going to follow:

  1. No apps on my phone, and no apps in my phone web browsers. I’ve deleted the apps from my phone and web browser bookmarks.
  2. No email newsletters. I’ve either unsubscribed from all email newsletters, or have set up a gmail filter to mark them as “read” and move them to a special folder to read after my experiment, if I am so inclined.
  3. No reading blogs, articles, or online journals, but I will post here if I am so inclined because I sort of view my blog as a journal rather than social media. However if I find I’m posting more often as a substitute for real social connection, I’ll take another look at that rule.
  4. No podcasts. This will be a hard one; I love podcasts on my commute! But I know that if I listen to podcasts, I’ll probably start to crave online social interaction since many of the podcasts I listen to I also follow on social media. So better safe than sorry, and I’ll find other ways to amuse myself driving over the bridge. Like call my Grandma.

In addition to reclaiming my brain space, this social media detox will give me the opportunity to reconnect with the humans in my life, in my  real life. If you don’t know me in real life, please don’t take this as “Emily doesn’t care to know you anymore.” On the contrary, I’d love to get to know you better! Feel free to email me, and let’s connect! And if you do know me in real life, call/text/email me, and let’s connect without a screen in between us (except for my SoCal/East Coast babes, we might need to Skype! Skype is totally okay in my book), preferably over coffee or hiking mountains.

To be clear, I don’t think social media is bad. I think it is useful, purposeful, and an easy way to connect with people. But just like birthday cake not inherently “bad” and is useful and purposeful in the right setting (celebrating a birthday!), so is social media. It is a tool, not an activity. And just like I use a Whole30 to adjust my attitude to birthday cake (totally worth the splurge on birthdays, but not on, like, Tuesdays), I want to use this Social Media Break to identify the role social media has in my life and how I engage with it.

I am super pumped to get two hours back into my day. Wish me luck!

Now that I’m off to do something not social-media related, go forth and make it a great day!

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Rough Week

It’s been a bit of a rough week over here. Life stuff is rolling along smoothly as usual, but the news lately has been wretched. Along with the National stories of horror (eff you too, all news from Florida) I’ve found out quite a few people have passed away recently. Some I knew personally, some were family and friends of friends, and some were community leaders who inspired me. Then the Warriors lost game 6 of the playoffs. The bad news just kept rolling in all week.

So when I woke up before my alarm this morning, I knew a bit of self care was in order before I headed to work. I knocked off a session of Headspace meditation, then once I saw what a beautiful, sunny day it was, I took Olive to our favorite trail.

happy dog

I started writing a bit more about my thoughts on this week’s events, but it got super deep and woo-ish super fast, so we’ll keep it light by saying it’s the weekend, yay! Let’s go out and do cool stuff. Play a game, get dirty, laugh hard. Ponder life’s mysteries, give really good hugs, and frolic. Live life the way it was meant to be lived. That’s the best legacy and memory we can make for anyone. And go make it a great day.