This post started off as a Facebook update… At first I was going to make a quick comment about something that happened to me at the gym today, and then I added a little commenary, and then it got longer and longer, and I realized maybe I had something to say that was more than a Facebook status update. Now, the orderly part of me (and, let’s be honest, judging by the current state of my dishes that’s a very small part of me) knows that I have drafts upon drafts of posts about my history with this subject that I haven’t written out or fully explained, and telling this story feels like jumping ahead. I was tempted not to post this.
And then I was like, okay, screw this. I’d like to tell the first part of this story correctly… but that’s going to take a long time, and even two years later I haven’t figured out the right words. But the highights are this: between 2011 and 2013 I had an eating disorder. I know, that’s fucking uncomfortable for some people (which is fair, it was uncomfortable for me too.) But I’ll save the details for that other story I’m going to tell eventually… for now I’ll say it started as a well-intentioned diet and exercise program that turned into orthorexia and then– when my body wouldn’t conform to both my lifestyle and the ideals about what my body “should” be– turned into full-on bulima. That was fun.
But I pulled myself out of that shit and then began a two year journey to where my life is today, which includes a lot of eating whateverthehell I want (but, if we’re going to be honest, more protien shakes than I would have thought possible) and also a lot more time than I ever would have thought devoted to weight lifting because I love it. (Plus I like to throw rowing or crossfit once a week with some of my coworkers and I work out with one of the strongest and most awesome trainers once a week as well to make sure ass is thoroughly kicked… all of which are genuinely some of the best parts of my week.) My current goal is to complete “Murph”– 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and another mile run– by the end of May.) So, just as context for the rest of this: I eat and drink unabashedly, and I do some pretty amazing workouts every week too.
So. Here’s the story. Tonight–as I was in the middle of four sets of curls–one of the kids that works at my gym stopped over and told me it looked like I’d “lost a couple of inches.” I honestly had no idea what he meant and then when he clarified by asking if I’d lost weight I genuinely laughed and was like, “That’s unlikely, but I have no idea because I haven’t stepped on a scale in 3 years!” His face was priceless.
And I’m not making fun of the kid. (He was trying to pay me a compliment, and I haven’t turned into some militant overly-sensitive post-eating-disorder version of myself, even when someone comments on my body.) No, it was actually genuine, delighted laughter because the reason I don’t know what I weigh (which, let’s be honest, is bsaically the numerical representation of the amount of force my body exerts on the earth because of gravity, and yeah, it does sound like a silly thing to care about when you say it like that) is because it doesn’t matter to me. I never think about it. I also don’t think about the number randomly assigned to the pair of jeans I try on that I feel awesome wearing and don’t cut off blood flow to the lower half of my body. And there was a time where those things could make or break my day, so to be reminded that I legitimately don’t think about those things ever anymore is… amazing.
Truthfully? I have so much fun working out and getting stronger that on a day-to-day basis I forget that the vast majority of people think that exercise or “going to the gym” is inexorably linked with wanting to look different. On a personal level, I love that I forget that, and I also don’t want to tell other people how to handle their shit, but, because I’ve been there (and it was miserable for me) it feels important to offer this alternative:
1.) You don’t have to have aesthetic goals for your body regardless of what you weigh, what size your clothes are, or what you look like. You don’t. (Part of me wants to say “and fuck anyone who tells you that you do” but I also try to extend some grace to those people. I don’t internalize what they say I “should” do but I do very clearly recognize that they’re dealing with their own shit, or, at the very least, some very deeply embedded cultural norms that make most people miserable.) But for you, the person who is reading this, what I’m saying is… It’s totally cool to just be you.
I’m looking at my life for the next six months and I’ve got a film crew showing up at my house in January (to film more fun stuff like this), and after that I’ve got a wedding on a beach for my dearest friend where I plan to run around in my underwear more than is socially acceptable… and my body currently is sporting both fat and cellulite—and scars, calluses, probably a few spider veins if we’re going to start cataloguing this shit– that lots of people are going to see and you know what I think about that? It’s cool, body. We’re doing awesome shit together. Not just a job, and running a farm, and building awesome things, but we did 200 GODDAMN PUSHUPS on Tuesday which is at least 50 more than I thought was physically possible for me to do in one workout. Hell yes! And if fat and cellulite and scars and calluses are what is required for me feel amazing and powerful and do awesome shit every day, I’m cool with that.
2.) Exercising or “working out” literally has nothing to do with your diet. Yep. Real things. We want to pretend that no one is allowed to work out who isn’t a low-carb, high-protien, flexible dieting manaicac. Uh. Except it turns out there are no police who patrol what you eat and then decide if you’re worthy of lifting weights or being a boxer or riding your bike to work, or vice versa. You can do those things and still eat nothing but Big Mac’s if that’s what you want to do (and you don’t have to earn that shit by doing cardio beforehand either.) Nor do you have to justify anything you eat to all the assholes out there who don’t know how to keep their eyes on their own plate. (I know there are so many good people who are going to read that sentence and want to respond with some shit like “yeah but you shouldn’t eat Big Mac’s all day because of cholesteral,” or “your workouts will be better if you eat all the egg whites” or whatthefuckever. You guys, just stop. I get why we want to do that… it’s conditioning mixed with a weird desire to “help” that actually is not helpful at all. Here’s the truth: what other people do with their bodies is none of our goddamn business. It is literally the thing in the world that is the least of our goddamn business. How other people eat or sleep or drink or interact with other humans may impact their heath and their ability to function in certain capacities… that’s true, but it’s also an individual choice.)
Now, my caveat to this is that you may find that eating certain ways (or just actually eating) makes it easier for you to do more awesome shit like, in my case, lift heavy things. Food can fuel that, just like it fuels literally every single thing you’ll ever do in your life, but different bodies have different needs and process things different ways. Everyone has to figure out what works for them… but doing awesome shit with your body does not require food-prep or six meals a day or protien shakes if that’s not your thing.
3.) Self-sufficiency is amazing. I spend a lot of time thinking about this, trying to decide if I’m imposing my ideals (because I love being self-sufficient and in control) on other people. Maybe? But I think I’m being pretty objective when I say that being able to do shit yourself only adds to you as a person. You don’t have to do it yourself. You can ask for help, you can pay someone to do a job, you can decide you just don’t want to do a thing… but it’s amazing and powerful to know that you are capable. Even if you decide to ask for help, or decide to pay for a service, it’s not because you have to, it’s because you want to, and I think that makes a huge difference.
Now, self-sufficiency means different things to different people, and that’s okay too. For me it might mean being able to lift 30 bales of hay into a hayloft (or for you it might mean being able to lift 1500 bales of hay into a hayloft because you’re a real farmer.) And it might not mean being able to re-wire your entire house, or build cabinets or patch drywall holes like I do, but maybe it means being able to run 10 miles (pretty sure I can’t do that) or rig up a ham radio out of batteries and tinfoil.
All I can say is that from my perspective being able to physically do things has given me a sense of power and confidence and weight in the world, and I don’t tie those things to a physical aesthetic or a diet plan. (When I did I was physically weaker and less capable than any other time in my life, so… that was counterproductive.) Since I go to the gym and do workouts to make me stronger and more self-sufficient–and because I just plain have fun with my workout buddies–instead of to look differently… there’s no way to lose. It’s not something I have to do, it’s not punishment for what I ate, I don’t get dejected and stop going because my body doesn’t look a certain way. It is nothing but an awesome part of my day that makes me better at doing more awesome things. Crazy, right?
I don’t mean for this to be some heavy shit for a Friday. It’s just an alternative view that I think we don’t stop to consider enough while we’re hating our bodies, and not recognizing our capabilities, and not living up to our potential as awesomely badass human beings. So this is just something to consider while I go finish this wedge of brie and bottle of wine that I declared was dinner, and prep for a full day of work tomorrow followed by a lot of awkward attempts to do a pull-up in my bedroom doorway.
It’s not glamorous, you guys, but it’s a pretty awesome life once you accept it.
**Let’s have an honest moment here… most people who haven’t followed me for a while you’re wondering what the hell I look like before you make a judgement on what I’ve written. I’m tempted not to indulge you (because my words are actually meaninful despite what I look like) but I’m also weighing that against telling an authentic story. So here’s me, authentically, post-workout, sans-makeup, and after at least half a bottle of really good chardonay. No filter, no photoshop…
Yeah, that sportsbra is too small because it’s been efffing laundry-day for a week. Turns out no one died because I had split-boob today, but I still got an awesome workout in. (And, because I know we’re sick this way, if you’d like to compare that to mid-eating distorder…)
In the first picture, recently did 100 burpees, 200 pushups, 300 squats, and ran 900 steps inside of an hour. In the second picture, couldn’t do any pushups (maybe two if I tried real hard?) skin broke out, didn’t go out with friends because I was afraid of eating or drinking too much, and also used to take sleeping pills when I got home from work so I would just fall asleep instead of thinking about eating all night. That was fun and healthy?
Yeah… no. I don’t do that shit anymore because it was miserable…and I also have plenty of belly fat…
And also plenty of muscle…
And I’m real happy. Like unaccountanly happy.
And I just want to say this before you comment on this post. The gut-reaction people have when someone tells them they have had an eating distorder is to say one of three things: 1.) I wish I looked like that, I can’t believe you’re unhappy with it. 2.) You look good, I don’t know why you’re complaining. Or 3.) You’re so close! If you just lost a few pounds you’d look great!
Just so we’re clear, none of those comments are welcome on this post (and I will happily delete them.) I don’t want or need compliments or assurances. I don’t want you to compare yourself to me. I want you to see a woman… 34 years old. Fucking badass and whatever she chooses to do. Imperfect. Messy house. Oddly proud of her muscles (which aren’t that big… I’m not a fucking bodybuilder). Completely accepting of her fat (it’s necessary to live guys, seriously.) Drinking a bottle of wine while she writes this (because it’s fucking delicious.) Not telling you to be perfect, or to be like me, or to think the things I think are important are actually important. Just consider this: love yourself for who you are. That’s it. And let other people love themselves for who they are.
We’re all capable of such awesomeness, and stupid shit like our weight, or body-fat-percentage, or how much cheese we eat in a week is never going to determine how amazing we are, unless we let it. Let’s not.
Ditto on all of the above!
Eat. Breathe. Move. Drink. Live.
Thank you for writing your truths and for all you inspire in others.
I never did understand why men can be so proud of their gi-normous bellies and women are shamed for being able to pinch an inch of reserve.
So don’t stop. Ever. : )
High five! Accepting yourself is something I truly believe in (I just a satire about fad diets), but sometimes have trouble living.
Wow, Kit. As a devoted reader of a number of years, I have to tell you that there were a number of times when your posts inspired me; either to deal with a project I’d been procrastinating on; to start something whimsical just because; to drink a glass of wine and relax despite the length of my project list. This post, you went from inspiring me to being a total hero. Way to go, lady! You are a total badass. There is nothing you can’t do!
Thanks for your unflinching honesty.
Since I have started reading your blog, and because of all of the amazing stories like these, I have literally found myself excelling in all areas of my life and just overall have been feeling so much more confident, happy, and content as a 29 yr old woman, mom, wife, supervisor at work, in my own free time, etc. Thank you for sharing these real bits and stories.. the inspiration has been kinda life changing for me, as heavy/weird as that might sound! Just been drawing from the lady power, I guess 🙂
Thank you for this post. I have been working on loving my body for the last year or so–reading body positive blogs and books and it has been an amazing ride. i never thought i would ever, in a million years, get to the point where I even remotely accepted myself. But I’m getting there and it feels great. i no longer weigh myself–ever. and when I see myself naked (which I do so much more now. I used to avoid my reflection) I see things that I like and appreciate about myself.
I no longer refuse to be in pictures. I still wish I were thinner and i still have days when i compare my body to others, but I’m making improvements and it feels good. Your post reminds me of how important this journey is for my mental health! Thank you!
What a refreshing thing to read! I am going to work on changing my point of view from now on about fitness! I am going to rejoice in the things my body can do now, and work on the things I want it to do in the future! Yes, I am still on board for the Murph!!
Thanks Kit! Virtual hug and high five!
Kit is my spirit animal.
I love this post. I love everything about this post and I kinda want to tape it to my mother’s forehead.
Thank you for being full of badassery today & always.
“I kinda want to tape it to my mother’s forehead” – SAME!!!!!!!!!!!!
You absolutely ROCK.
I can’t imagine even wanting to say any of those things. You are a goddamn baller and an inspiration!! I always cheer a little when I see you’ve written a post about this part of your life, they’re such a great, honest reset.
I’ve been reading about your badass adventures for years and have continued to be inspired and amazed. There are too few posts or whatever on the Internet from women really talking about body shit that isn’t something from Women’s Health or Cosmo, and that’s a shame. I think you’ve touched on another part of “get healthy. get happy” movement (that is sometimes super shallow) and that’s the happiness isn’t a number or flat stomach, but the feeling of doing something on your own to make yourself better. Thanks for being f*ing you!
As usual you kick ass! thank you for being you and sharing; i’ve had eating disorder issues my whole life and its stupid how many people think they get to have an opinion on how i live MY life. Be happy, be you, fuck the rest of ’em!
This made me happy, but a little jealous since I’m 40 and you’ve probably got at least a decade on me for figuring this stuff out. 🙂 To share another perspective – there are reasons that we have stomach fat! Last year I went through all sorts of invasive medical stuff to figure out diffuse but severe abdominal pain and it turned out that it involved veins being pinched off so that blood wasn’t flowing and was pooling. Yuck – typical treatment is serious abdominal surgery. We waited a bit, I happened to gain weight, and the pain went away. Padding = less stress on veins! I’d been at my skinniest in a decade (not my healthiest!). Now I tell people that my “treatment” involved chocolate.
Awesome post. Lately I’ve been thinking I want to try something other than going to the gym. I used to go with my Mom and just get on the elliptical and treadmill once a week trying to lose weight. Didn’t really work. And half the time we would be lazy and skip it. So recently I decided that I would rather be strong, so I’ve been looking into classes like kickboxing or something like that. And if I tone up and lose weight at the same time then that would be f***ing awesome. 🙂
Yeah! Finding a thing you love to do is the key. I’m an advocate for being strong, but I think it’s more meaningful and sustainable for most of us to do that through building capabilities, not trying to change our bodies.
You are a total badass. Thanks for your honest and inspiring words. I LOVE your blog and look forward to your posts whenever they come!
You. Are. One. Awesome. Lady!
Loved this post.
You just made my day. I think you look so happy and healthy. I’m so glad you are brave enough to share your story! I recently had a baby and sometimes it’s hard to love this new body, but I take a step back and say, “I am a badass! This body made a baby!”
Exactly! Bodies are amazing things… it’s so weird that our culture has evolved to judge them based on what they look like, not what they can do.
Girl, you heart is gorgeous and that’s all that counts! You look happier now and that counts more.
Yes to every last thing you said! I havent weighed myself in almost 4 years and refuse to ever do so again unless medically required. It has no relation to how strong I am, how long and fast I can run and how generally awesome I am. Bravo for this post!
“Turns out no one died because I had split-boob today”
Ok, this MUST be turned into a bumper sticker. As in, yesterday. Laughed out loud and scared my dogs who are sleeping at my feet. Thanks for that.
Great post. This really speaks to me and many, many other people (men and women) out there. I think most of your readers of this blog appreciate this perspective – taking care of yourself and making yourself stronger and better.
Thank you for putting it out there.
You are and always have been a beautiful woman – inside and out.
I think a lot of us mistake certain characteristics as flaws when they are actually strengths.
Awesome. Just awesome.
I do indeed see a total badass in you, and I always have.
I try to only look at my neighbor’s plate to make sure they have enough, not in judgement or comparison. That’s a general life rule around here.
Thank you for this awesome, transparent, post! I’ve battled weight all my life. Now all I want to do is get strong and stay healthy. Can I still want to emulate you at my young age (60)?! You’ve been my cheerleader / mentor since I began to DIY about 5 years ago so no doubt you’ll be in my head as I begin an exercise/strength building journey.
If you’re looking for some other women to follow on the “get stronger, not smaller” journey, I love Erin Brown (http://iamerinbrown.com/) and GoKaleo (https://gokaleo.com/). They both have great facebook pages as well.
My only response is hard to convey via internet because it’s just a guttural noise that vaguely sounds like, “yeeeeeaaaaaahhh!” Which I hope accurately conveys my agreement and appreciation for your strength and your message.
I recently read a book called, “Running for Potato Chips.” In other words, exercise and enjoyable food are not mutually exclusive.
And trust in your body to tell you what it really needs.
Fat is good when you live in the Great Lakes region – after all, SNOW!
You go lady! Strong words from a strong woman! I also work out to be more capable and stronger for everyday life. I love it! It’s definitely some of the best time in my week. My current goal is to improve my running speed. Why? Just because I want to push past my current physical limits. When I started running 20+ years ago in my mid-20’s, the goal was just to run a mile without have to slow to a walk. It was something I could never do, even in high school. I reached that goal pretty quickly and could eventually run a 10K without stopping. Next challenge was weight training and now after a few years, I’ve come full circle back to running (with some weight training too.) There’s nothing like pushing your body to get stronger. And a wedge of brie and bottle of wine sound like an awesome dinner to me. Pumpkin pie for breakfast is pretty amazing too if that’s your kind of thing. 😉
I’m currently reading your blog from the beginning. I’m on page 65 so it’s going to be keeping me busy in the evening with a glass of wine for quite a few winter nights! It’s a great read, but I have to keep fighting the urge to skip ahead to find out what happens with MysteryMan. The suspense is killing me!
I really need to go back and put in some “easter eggs” for people who read all the way from the beginning 😉 Best of luck on those running times!
Thank you for being honest and real. The world needs more women like you!
Rock on friend. With very similar experiences and building badges it is fun to read your chronicles.
Best to you and hopes that the Lord will be your for front and rock that you stand on. He is our reason and our strength. Blessings to you in your undertakings and finding peace and contentment. Time flys and looking back with as little regret is smoking awesome.
*sound of thunderous applause* Where was the internet with awesome bloggers like you back in the 80s? Could’ve used these viewpoints then! I’m figuring it out finally, but oh, the time wasted. Go get ’em! And thanks for this post!
You rock! I haven’t worked out in 2 months since I made the big move but NOW tomorrow morning I am going down to join that damned gym in town and get back to it! Loved this post…I religiously worked out 5x a week, 2 of them HD tabata workouts, and I got LARGER but I’m not built like my friend who teaches the class with her lithe body. I have larger shoulders and arms than my husband and came to accept and LOVE them. Keep up the great work!
Nothing fucks with your head more than an eating disorder. So glad to hear you beat yours, and found happiness in your life and body! Working towards that myself. Loved this post. You’re an amazing human and I’m thankful you share your truths and experiences with the world.
You are awesome. Not how you look. You. Who you are. And you’re an inspiration.
Great post, thank you. Good luck on your journey to 100 pull ups, we’re all rooting for you.
Rock on! You are a badass chick! At 40, I haven’t gotten there yet. I have made some great strives, but I still have 100+ lbs to lose. But…… I made two great human beings, I care deeply for others, and no one had better tell me that i can’t do something. So, yah, maybe I am a badass too. Or at least a badass in training. Thanks for a huge dose of awesomeness. I needed it today! Love your blog, it has been a fav of mine for quite a long time!
I’ve been totally stalking your blog for about a month or so now. A few things have happened:
I’ve never in my life wanted a farm. But seeing the hard work, the early mornings and long nights, and the rewards have made me want one. Me. Miss I-only-love-cities – me.
Secondly, I have serious respect for you. Telling people you had an eating disorder is a huge accomplishment. That alone is empowering. (I dealt with binge eating that is still being worked on). But then to also LOVE yourself after that and see yourself as being capable and strong without being “tiny” is a massive applaud moment. Most people need to think your way, and I know for the last few weeks I’ve been obsessing over working out and eating right (my wedding is coming up in Feb) and this has given me a “breathe and let it go” pause in life.
I’m proud of my muscles, and am learning to be proud of the round hips and belly fat. As everyone should love. And the occasional bottle of wine to myself nights. You’re reinforcing that it’s okay and giving a fresh take to “love yourself”. Thanks so much for posting this!
All I can say is kick ass and take names!
Thanks for being you
Came across a beautiful picture of you as a child recently and couldn’t stop looking at it. How did I know that you would become a therapist for so many people. I admire your honesty and , really, you can still write pretty well. Love you Mamie
DFTBA says it all!!
Best – post – ever.
Here’s my irony – I own a wellness business – and created a dance/ fitness class – and for that reason feel a need to look a certain way but with each baby I pop out – that ‘way’ gets further and further beyond my reach.
If I shut down my business today – I would be totally fine with the 155.6 (yes .6 is important to add) that I am today. But I feel my 30+ pounds from three kids is hindering my success.
Intellectually I know how crazy that sounds because :
(A) I have the most amazingly powerful Polynesian thighs – no like really people ar amazed by what these babies can do
(B) my hips can shake in a way that compels people to video tape them
(C) I have 3 amazing girls who I never want to think the way that I do or go through all the disorders I’ve been through
So I guess I have to decide what I want to do – practice what I preach AKA focusing on inside not outside , or continue to wake up every day and not drink a sip of water or eat a morcel of food until I’ve stepped on the scale 7 times shifting my Center of gravity to hopefully bring down that 0.6 to 0.2.
Decisions decisions lol
PS. I love you – in a totally non creepy non stalker straight girl crush kinda way
CROSSFIT!! I can relate! Doing crossfit makes you forget all the other stupid thoughts – like loosing weight, and eating healthy. Screw that! When you can lift heavy shit and go eat a burger and drink a beer because you just no longer worry about it, because again you lift heavy shit, it just no longer matters! Keep rockin girl!
I love this post. I come back to read it again every so often. Thanks for putting it out there.
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