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.
I don’t comment on blogs, but tonight I need to say, “Well done, you!” I was 40 before I could block out the external critical voices. That’s an amazing and life preserving skill to have. Thank you for sharing your journey.
I’m still fighting them at 50. But this post is amazing. Sent it to my kids.
This post (and your belly fat picture) makes me insanely happy. keeping it real.
Your outlook is what is important and you kick all sorts of ass there. I love this post.
Sorry for what you went through, but you NAILED IT. Sent this off to my 20-something kids as an example of how to do it right.
You are all sorts of inspiring.
Turned 50 today. Kids gone. Am living life by the Tao of Sledgie. (My beautiful sledgehammer) Doing what I want. Eating what I want. Sometimes I take out fences. You never know. Neither does my husband until he gets home.
Your blog has inspired me to try more things. I already thought you were awesome. This is just another reason why you are.
Slainte. I’m finishing up that last glass of white with you.
I’m proud of you for choosing your health over an idea of perfection. I know it’s not easy. Been there.
Personally, I think i’m going to bookmark this post for me to read for some inspiration as I try to get myself healthy again. Thanks for that.
Thank you. You are a role model (not due to age but wisdom). I hope to absorb some of your outlook and strength and life in general. I am sorry you went through what you did and I am not going to spin it in any kind of positive light, like it has any role in what you are today. You are amazing and strong. You rightly view yourself based on accomplishments and are only accountable to yourself. Someone commented on you last blog that you achieved zen and I can’t think of a better way to put it. Thank you
It’s your imperfections that make you perfect. My favorite thing about your blog is how diverse it is. You tell a real story about your real life, and I think that’s awesome! Have you ever thought about doing motivational speeches for teenagers? (when do you have time for that!?) You would be awesome!
You are such a bad ass!!!
Is it crazy to look up to someone younger than you?
Not trying to be a creep but I think the woman you are is incredibly sexy
You look fabulous and are obviously pretty darn healthy, so anyone who thinks they have a right to tell you differently should just fuck off.
Me, I’m struggling with this right now. I’m trying to find the balance point between accepting the way I look and who I am, and knowing I’m not healthy. It’s really, really hard.
Thanks for reminding me it can be done.
I’m pretty sure you are 34. Haha! Love you and this post!
Ha. Shit… I’ve been getting that wrong all year!
you nail it as always.
I think you are an absolutely beautiful badass!
You’re amazing and inspiring! I love your energy and enthusiasm and commitment to everything you undertake.
And, you look great! I’m in awe of those 200 push ups, my goal is 100 and so far I’m at 19 (baby steps).
This post, and everything else you write, is exactly why I adore you.
Absolutely perfect way to start my Friday. Amazing post! Thank you I needed it 🙂
I love you!
I’m a long time follower but I’ve never commented before but I just want to say how incredibly happy this post makes me for you. I came to the same realization – that my body is awesome because it gets shit done regardless of what what it looks like (maybe even *because* of what it looks like) a couple of years ago and it changed everything. Really – so awesomely happy for you!
I love that there are women like you and Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer (have you seen her recent Annie leibowitz portrait?) Who represent the strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful woman within each of us. It’s totally kickass, and it’s eroding even my entrenched negative self image.
Powerful personal treatise on:
“some very deeply embedded cultural norms that make most people miserable”.
So refreshing to hear a 30something woman stand against it. I hope other women of all ages can gain a similar perspective from reading it.
Had to look up Orthorexia….pretty rampant these days, the things people do (demand!) in the name of ‘health’…SHM…”…all the assholes out there who don’t know how to keep their eyes on their own plate. ” Hahahaha! Right on!
Hell yeah!! It took me 40 some years to realize this…. I wish I would have come to that conclusion when i was YOUR age, I would have had and additional awesome decade.
Keep being happy!!
I love this peace of mind non-filter blog post! It’s raw true and let’s be honest fucking awesome! I don’t care what people think of my outside, yes I have some tender spots that I need to attend to but not for others for me and I don’t have a size or weight limit goal I have a I wanna carry my 35/36 pounder of a kid without being outta breath or have back pain after just tens mins! I just want to feel healthier before we try for baby number two! I don’t need a six pack, buns of steal or muscular thighs! I never have and I never have been the type to say I wish I looked like her because I know those VS models are on diet after diet and exercise and probably eating disorder and then all these teen girls wanna be like them! Why as a society can’t we figure out that we are all made differently and to stop stero-typing into categories! God made each of us different for a reason! I’m learning to love my C-section scar…it was a hard battle but how else could they have gotten a ten pounder outta my belly without there being complications hence the doing of C -section! Thank you for posting this! Love you for you! You’re an amazing hard working bad ass!!!
You are an amazing and capable person! Good for you getting your priorities straight in life, so many of us struggle with that.
It’s an ongoing journey, that’s for sure!
I love this post. Everything about it. There is something liberating that society doesn’t tell us about growing up, adulting, and having the ability to just not give a f* about what others think about us. Its hard, but being able to achieve that is so freeing. Keep being awesome.
I hope you succeed in everything you want to!
And of course I know you will 🙂
Cheers to your next glass of wine & terrific blog post.
I love how you keep it real and inspire at the same time. So glad that Sarah shared it. Can’t wait to read more!
Just picture the hands in the air emoji here.
Thank you for the authenticity beaming through the last couple posts. I love everything you’ve (ever) written, love your commitment to growth… I’m the same age as you, find myself going through different versions of many of the same things. So it really resonates.
I have a goal that I’ve been slacking on lately: 25 pullups in one set by the time I turn 35, in mid-march. I let my job get in the way for the last few months. Time to renew my vows!
How does living “in public” change the way you approach things, or how you feel accountable for them?
Intense props and support to you. *fistbump*
I never comment on blogs, but just had to chime in! I’ve been struggling with body issues recently due to a whole bunch of shit going down, and the fact that I don’t look like I did before 2 kids. I want to go to the gym for stress relief and to build up strength, but always felt like it wasn’t for me because I’m not skinny anymore. I’m healthy, and made it through lots of scary health problems, created 2 kids, and that is freaking enough. So thanks for the motivation to get stronger for ME. Love your blog!
Gyms can be intimidating like that… I tried 4-5 different places (over 6-8 months) before I found a place that worked for me. Getting stronger is for EVERYONE so make sure you find a place (or trainer or class) that supports you in the right way and it will be awesome, I promise.
Amazing… You hit on everything I am trying to program myself to think! At 47… It’s not easy. But I’m trying. We go to the same gym… Have the same trainer… Have heard the same things… Time to reprogram my brain!! Thanks for the great blog… Keep up the badassery!
We must be on different schedules (or just haven’t formally met) but Shaun talks about you all the time so I recognized the name! I hear you’re lifting some heavy-ass things! So awesome.
Wow! 200 Pushups! That is great. As I get older it becomes much more clear that you have to keep doing if you want to keep doing. If you give up and sit, all you will be able to do it sit. So keep moving and don’t quit until you have to. Look up a gal named Charlotte Hilton Andersen. She gives the same message you do.
It isn’t how you look, it is what you can do! Have fun.
When I went from caring about what my body looked like to caring how my body moved through this life with strength and badass awesomeness was the day I became a free woman. Plus, my extra belly fat (lovingly nicknamed Chipotle…not after the restaurant), helped me to survive while experiencing a diminished appetite during breast cancer. Win win. Great post, woman.
I’d want you on my zombie apocalypse team. You’re a badass! Keep it up!
I’m where you are but it took me 15 years more than you to get there. Realizing that what someone else thinks of me is none of my business is freeing. I used to say that I was my own worst enemy (self-demanding, self-critical, expecting more from myself than from others) until I finally realized how sad it was to be so unloving, to be a bully to such a good person. Although I regret not having this insight sooner, I’m not looking back. Like you, I pledge to celebrate each day I’m here. Life is amazing. Cheers!
GET SOME!! Awesome post!
You inspired me! Thank you for helping me to gain perspective with you, what a great post. …
I could’ve written much of this post. I have had a problem with binge eating and actually just recently had the a-ha moment of HOLY SHIT, I’VE GOT A BINGE EATING PROBLEM. And now I’m working hard to focus on not doing that. Food is fuel. And it’s delicious and wonderful. But too much of a good thing is still too much… It’s a learning process.
I’m 34. I work a full time job. I work two part time jobs. I work out 3-5 times per week, lifting heavy shit. I’ve been working out inconsistently consistent (never totally off, but not ultra consistent) for over 3 years. I lost 30 pounds in the first few months and have fluctuated around the same 5-10 pounds since. I’m still over 200 pounds, but my body has changed immensely (down 4 sizes!). I’ve conquered a body weight deadlift (and more now!)…I’ve competed in my first powerlifting meet (got first place in bench for my weight class!)…and I’m FINALLY starting to realize that the 2– on the scale DOESN’T fucking matter. I want to be healthy and feel good about myself…and I’m achieving that, just like you, one day at a time…one workout at a time. I lift heavy shit because it’s fun and weirdly self-competitive (PR much?!). I go to the gym because the culture of friends and support and love is INCREDIBLY INSPIRING.
When I first joined the gym it was to “get healthy” and “be smaller”. Now it’s to heave some iron and prove to myself how much of a badass I really am.
You. Are. Amazing!
Thanks for always keeping it real. And thanks for reminding me that the little voice in my head telling me that I’m not good/pretty/smart/funny enough can fuck the hell off.
You know this article really hits home. The authenticity of it. Your gift to the world is being able to tell your story. I was at church the other day and the pastor said your biggest struggle is your mission. I can’t find words to put it into, but I just want to say. Keep sharing you are brilliant and can anyone be facebook friends with you?
Thank you!! This is amazing and so empowering.
since you didn’t do it yourself, i’ll do it for you.
**DROP MIC** walk off the stage.
seriously – this, just …THIS.
i struggle. hard. i was super unhealthy and overweight (numbers!) and have lost 70lbs. I still feel uncomfortable with areas of my body not only internally but because i’ve been force-fed to believe that i should like like xy&z.
i’ve come to realize – i’m going to have cellulite, and spider veins, and wrinkles, and a pudge, and fat, and hanging skin in areas…IT IS LIFE and if i’m still able to kick ass and do things i haven’t been able to do in years and make memories – who cares?!
this is one of the many reasons i’ve been reading your blog for years.
i’m so inspired by your authenticity.
Woooooooty hoooooty hoo for being strong enough to be SELF SUFFICIENT. That’s the best way I’ve ever heard it described. That’s EXACTLY why I stay in the shape I do – which, let’s admit it, is sort of a squishy round-ish shape with some effing rock hard muscles underneath – because I can do ANYTHING I want to do WITHOUT much help from anyone else. I’ve got two boys that I’m raising to believe that a woman (a mom!) can do anything (ANYTHING!) she puts her mind to. In the gym, in the garage, in the office, in the classroom – anything!!! Keep on staying strong! You are beautiful!
“That’s EXACTLY why I stay in the shape I do – which, let’s admit it, is sort of a squishy round-ish shape with some effing rock hard muscles underneath” LOVE this. Love, love, love.
Wow – this is a wonderful testimony to the power of Intuitive Eating. I started on my own journey of retraining my brain to eat intuitively, although I am coming from a different place.
When i found your blog, i enjoyed it so much that i went back to the beginning and read all of your posts. I live on a small farm also and love to diy anything i can, and learning to do more every day.
I love this post, and have struggled with self image my entire adult life. And i am also sick of the struggle. I am so tired of the food police, i want to be healthy AND balanced, whatever that means for ME. It sounds like you are close to that destination for yourself so i say Power On!!!!!
Love it! You are consistently my favorite blogger, no matter what you’re writing about.
Kit~~ You Rock-you go girl… keep up what ever you are doing, it works for you!
Kit, I never comment but love your blog and follow you on Instragram. I just have to say I fucking love you!