I Spun, and Other Confessions

So the other day, I did something very strange. For me.

I went spinning. I spun. I’m not sure what the past tense of “Spinning” is as it relates to stationary bicycle classes. But yeah, I did that. It was totally last-minute. I was feeling beat up from lifting, and I wanted some yoga to help stretch out my hips. I had a couple of appointments that made finding the perfect yoga class a bit difficult, but one local studio offers a “Cycle in/Yoga out” class of 40 minutes of spinning followed by 30 minutes of yoga. Apparently I was that desperate for yoga, so I clicked the “Book” link on my MindBody app.

You guys, I have not ridden a bicycle for more than a mile in over five years. That was HARD. And I was sweaty. And I had a meeting after class, so I was sweaty and stinky all night. But it was pretty cool. I’m not a super-spinning fan, but the instructor was great and the music was phenomenal. They also did the thing where the lights were all turned off and little electric candles in all sorts of colors of red, blue, green, and yellow were peppered in between the bikes. It was like spinning on a space station with OK GO! blasting.

In other news, this happened yesterday.

Yes, that would be a donut. Which I only ate like three bites of because I found the flavor was candied ginger, and after the second hunk of ginger I decided I was done and I miss The Jelly Donut in Grants Pass.

Which brings me to Confession Time: I gave up on my Whole30 a few days ago, and I feel pretty conflicted about it. On the one hand, I’m totally good with my choices. I feel neither bad nor good about my decision to go off-plan with a beer enjoyed with an old friend. I’ve stuck mostly Whole30 ever since, except for some nachos (worth it) and Monday night’s dinner of a few handfuls of popcorn and some stolen M&Ms (totally not worth it). I’m making deliberate decisions, owning the results, and I still feel pretty darn good.

But I feel this guilt – or really is it shame? – about bailing the program when I had been posting publicly about it. The new Whole30 Coaching program is due to come out later this year, and I so want to be selected. I would love to help others find the freedom from food guilt that I’ve come to discover with this program, to embrace the curious process of finding that sweet spot between enjoying life and feeling good at the same time. But who do I think I am, when I can’t even finish the program? Never mind that I’ve successfully completed 4 full Whole30s in 3 years. It’s the ones I didn’t finish that make me feel unworthy.

The Shame Monster is real. Comparison is still a trap. I look at people in my feed and think, “I can do that! I can totally do a better job promoting my enjoyment and passion for wellness.” And then popcorn and M&Ms for dinner. Because life. Because sometimes after early wake-up call to work, long commute, small human care squeezed between housework and gym time, and the Bedtime Parade of Futility to get two sleep-hyper children to stay in  their beds, it’s good enough for now, and I’ll just have a healthy breakfast tomorrow that doesn’t consist solely of a gallon of black coffee and deep breathing.

I’ve had well-intentioned people in my life tell me that my desire to promote wellness publicly is misplaced because they see the extra pounds on my short frame, the missed workouts, and the extra side of fries and sneaky handfuls from the M&Ms bag and that all makes me unqualified to speak to health. That I will not be taken seriously. Because you know, REAL heath and fitness personalities don’t eat McDonald’s or miss workouts. By god, the stain on their credibility, just imagine! But what these people don’t see is the internal journey, from self-loathing to self-love, where I make choices now because they feel good to me on a “soul-ullar” level, not because others say this is what I should be doing, not because I’m bullying myself into choices to punish myself for whatever my dark, twisted brain has decided I should be tried and sentenced for, which is usually existing in too much space. I’m not here to preach how one can achieve a size 0 or “lose that bra fat”. Because 1) I haven’t figured that out either and 2) that totally doesn’t interest me. I am here because I want to share what I’ve learned about taking care of myself, which I’m finally learning how to do at the ripe old age of 34. It’s only taken me two decades to figure out that I am worthy of caring for myself physically, emotionally, spiritually. Because if someone reading this is stuck where I’ve been stuck, or needs a fresh perspective or inspiration to try something new, I hope my stories might spark an idea.

I’m done with perfection. I’m done with feeling like my extra “padding” makes me unqualified to learn and talk about what I’m interested in. I will start Whole30s. Sometimes I finish them, and sometimes I won’t. I will go to the gym and work out hard with joy and gratitude that I have the privilege to move my body, and sometimes I’ll make a million excuses to skip my training plan so I can go sit on the couch and eat popcorn and M&Ms with my kids watching “Minions” for the eleventeenth time. The only qualification I need to enjoy and share my health journey experiences is to presently be continuing on my health journey.

You do you, kids. Go make it a great day!

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On Owning Life Decisions

If you’ve been following me on Instagram (and you totally should, because sometimes I post unicorns) you know that last week I started a Whole30. I had been W30’ing and posting on it for six days, but now I have a confession to make … I had beer the other night. Not one, but two beers. It was a conscious choice I deliberated prior to and at the event, and I decided to go for it. And in my opinion it was deliciously and soul-fully worth it, despite the heartburn, crummy sleep, and rough morning after. I enjoyed the experience with a new friend, and we had a great time. I felt the situation called for it, so I allowed myself to make whatever choice I felt was appropriate.

Normally if I “quit” a Whole30, that’s it. I dive-bomb back into whatever my diet was before I started. But this time, I picked right back up where I left off the next morning, getting up early to make an egg scramble and pack a tuna salad for lunch. Because to me the process of getting my lifestyle and habits overhauled to embrace healthier food choices for myself matter more than giving into the “What the Hell” effect described in the “Food Freedom Forever” book, as in “what the hell, I’m eating this so I might as well eat all the things and go down in flames of glory,” which is so tempting. But I’m not tempted.

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I know, right?

Now, I’m not too proud of going off-plan. Let me just make that clear. But what I am proud of is that it was a conscious choice, I don’t feel bad about myself, and my only regret is that I chose to make this Whole30 so public on my Instagram, only to “lol just kidding” six days in. Kind of awkward. But I am picking up where I left off, and I’m back on plan. This is a huge leap of difference between old Emily and new Emily. Old Emily would throw in the towel, fully succumb to the “What the Hell” effect (as in, what the hell, I might as well also have pizza and top it off with some Safeway sheet cake … and go for my usual Starbucks breakfast sandwich and coffee with creamer tomorrow morning for breakfast because whoops I’m done oh well) and it would be several weeks before I finally emerged from my nutritional off-roading glory to crawl back to the program, confess to my dietary sins, and try again. Oh, and feel terrible and beat myself up for “why can’t you just be healthy!?!? What is wrong with you?”

So, new Emily has come to realize that this is a journey, and what’s a road trip without a few pit stops along the way? Sometimes the detour to see Carhenge is appropriate (I mean, it’s a Stonehenge replica made entirely out of cars can you not even) even if it sets you back a bit both time and budget-wise. Or maybe not. But you need to own the decision. If I had planned ahead of time to have seltzer with lime, got to the bar, and threw it all out for a beer, that would be different. That was not a conscious, deliberate decision. That is old Emily behavior. New Emily considered the options ahead of time, and decided to evaluate in the moment. And then in the moment, evaluated the options again and concluded that this would be okay. It is not sticking to the Whole30, I am not following the program in that moment, but for me personally it is okay.  And you know what? I’m still a good person at the end of the day. Well, okay, some folks might beg to differ, but my dietary choices have no affect on my morality and self-worth. And that is something that it’s taken me the better part of two decades to figure out.

I have a couple other social opportunities this week where I’ll have to make a decision whether to stick to the Whole30 plan or not, because I’ll be at a party or at a restaurant and temptation to stray will be there. But for these situations, I’ve predetermined that no, going off-plan will not serve me, and I’m making arrangements to stick to the program, such as suggesting to my friends to cook a meal at their apartment instead of going out (I offered to grill steak for them, so I’ll still be popular don’t worry), and looking at the restaurant menu ahead of time to figure out how much I will be able to make work and bringing some snacks to supplement. This is not hard, it just takes a little planning an experience.

The takeaway is sometimes plans and intentions change, but instead of regretting and berating yourself for “not being more disciplined” or “I just have no willpower,” own your choices, take the results with grace and compassion, and go on to enjoy the rest of your life.

Am I perfect? Nope. Will every off-road decision be made with this amount of contemplation and contentment of the results? Most definitely not. I’m sure at some point there will be some regretful break-room-donuts or home-alone-beer-and-nachos decisions that were more automatic than mindful. But it’s about progress, and the best kind of self-care is when you can celebrate the wins.

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And homemade chicken curry, because OMG so good.

I hope you are having a fabulous morning. Go make it a great day!