In the Middle of Things

My friend Jennifer recently asked when I was going to update this blog again, and the answer I had at the time was, "Unknown, because I'm not certain what I have to say?"

Everything in my head pertaining to fitness and health is kind of a big scribble right now.  And rather than hide and say nothing, I'm going to try to unpack it.  It's going to be messy.  But it's where I'm at, and the truth, they tell me, is powerful.

So here it goes: I'm struggling with post-partum body issues.  I thought that I'd made my peace with my post-partum shape, but as it turns out, that was more a surface-level peace, because clothes shopping was really triggering, along with the gym, and seeing pictures of myself, and on and on.  I was okay as long as I didn't think about it.  But that can't really work long-term.

The culturally expected thing to do about that is to try to lose weight and get in shape.  Before I dismissed that entirely, I wanted to do a deep dive into what that might look like.

I thought about going Paleo again, because I'd had success with it in the past.  For a moment, I even considered Keto, because the results reported by friends have been crazy.  But my partner's friend is having to do a very low-carb diet in order to reverse his diagnosis of Type II diabetes, and after watching him do it, my partner reported back that it takes a whole lot of planning, energy, and willpower -- to do the research on what foods you can eat, read labels, ask lots of questions about ingredients, and default to the safe things at restaurants.

I think that back in 2012-2013 I had that kind of time and energy.  I was also skating 3x per week and didn't have much else going on other than that.  I didn't have a kid.  I had a lot of time.  I don't have those things now.  It's worth noting that I do meal plan and prep on the weekends, and I've been pretty good at making plant-forward, healthy breakfasts and lunches this year.  I feel good about that.  But taking it to the next level, committing to another Whole30, or Keto, or even a pretty primal set-up takes a lot of resources -- resources I don't have at the moment.

The reason I don't have those resources is that I'm working on a pretty big project right now, and I've shelved nearly everything else in order to work on it.  I'm also a working parent with a very clever, sweet, feisty two year old.  So time and energy and effort are limited.  I'm lucky if I can get to CrossFit two times a week at this point.

That's the other part of it, by the way: I don't have a lot of time for exercise right now either.  I used to make it to CrossFit at least 3x per week.  I'm struggling to do that now with the daycare schedule.  The times don't line up quite right, and every time I have to leave CrossFit early, I feel really shitty about it.  It seems rude?  I don't know.  Everyone is super understanding at the gym, but I feel terrible about it. 

And then I have to rush through traffic to get to my kid on time, because the gym is further from her daycare than my work is.  So my compromise has been to work out at work's exercise room on Wednesdays when I have to pick her up.  I'm lucky enough to have a partner who retrieves kiddo on Mondays and Fridays, so I can hit CrossFit then, and that will have to be good enough for now. 

I feel like a huge traitor for even having these feelings at all.  I've worked so hard to be body positive, to make peace with my body as it exists, right now.  A lot of the time, I feel pretty okay about it.  But the weight I've gained around my middle from having a baby has literally changed my shape.  I used to be more of an hourglass, and now I'm more of an apple. 

I know that this is part of the wild changes of life, of pregnancy and childbirth, of being a mama.  I know that my body will never be the same, and I wouldn't want it to be, because I have her, and she is everything.

MamaKiddo.jpg

Still, it would really help if clothes fit better/differently, and if gaining the weight hadn't shifted me solidly into plus size clothes.  I think being on the edge of straight sizes can be challenging in this very particular way: because it feels like straight size clothes should be in reach.  But they're just out of reach.  And you think, oh hey, if I dieted, maybe all that would be accessible to me.

I'm not trying at all to equate that mental gymnastics with the very real oppression and discrimination fat people face every day.  I recognize the thin privilege I do have in being a big size 14/small size 16.  I still have access to a lot of things that larger people do not.  And maybe it's stupid to even care about this at all.

But there's still that horrible small whispering voice in the back of my head, saying "If only.  If only."

Lacy's Book is Available for Pre-Order!

My rad pals Lacy and Kett made a book!  Ink in Water is the story of Lacy's struggle with and victory over anorexia and it's BEAUTIFUL.  Lacy and Kett have been working on it for 2 years, and I've been following along on Instagram and Facebook.  This is going to be an amazing book. 

Pre-orders matter for gauging interest in the book, so if you're inclined, please pre-order here.

My Post-Partum Body, A Year Later

We don't talk about the realities of post-partum bodies enough.  There's a strong narrative that once you have your baby, you do a bunch of work and "go back" to your pre-pregnancy body.  With kegels and push-ups, some grit, and "no excuses" (Thank-you-not-really, Maria Kang), you can get back your body, and by extension, your sexuality and attractiveness and sense-of-self. 

Well, sorry, but that's a big, ol' NOPE.  There is no "snapping back".  These changes are forever. Your body went through a gigantic transformation.  No sense in pretending it didn't happen.

The thing is: I think you can reclaim your body, and by extension, your sexuality and attractiveness and sense-of-self WITHOUT a whole big weight loss "journey."  In fact, I think it's vital that you do.

My post-partum body, 1 year later. - superbalancedlife.com

My post-partum body, 1 year later. - superbalancedlife.com

A year ago, I showed what my post-partum body looked like, a month after birth.  The above picture was taken about a year after that.  Honestly, they're not much different.

My post-partum body, 1 year later - superbalancedlife.com

My post-partum body, 1 year later - superbalancedlife.com

I guess my stretch marks have faded, but I still have the "mummy tummy" and the same hips and big arms.  So what's different?  My head.

To be honest, I put off this post for a couple days because I was actually a little disappointed about the pictures.  A teeny part of myself wanted this to be a Before and After kind of scenario, because we're conditioned to believe that that is the triumph: visible, tangible transformation.  But the bigger win is what's been going on in my brain. 

To be even more candid -- as I compared the photos from a year ago to now, my thought process has gone something like this: "Oh man, it's not that different.  Shit.  And I've gone back to CrossFit, but it's obviously not working, and maybe I should be watching what I eat... OH WAIT A SECOND STOP RIGHT THERE.  Am I doing these things to "fix" what I look like, or to feel good in my body?  I am doing this to feel good in my body.  Eating well, moving my body in ways I like and feel good, sleeping as much as I can, and making time for self-care, those things are the goal in and of themselves."

Taking care of myself is its own reward.  I feel good; so much better than I have in a long time.  I feel motivated and engaged and happy.

So as much as I've been conditioned to see no physical change at all as a bad thing, I don't really think it is.  The life I'm living is sustainable.  I'm not driving myself crazy being consumed by a weight loss struggle.  Today, I ate a salad for lunch, but I also ate oatmeal with dark chocolate chips for breakfast.  *shrug*

This is what success looks like for me: total self-acceptance and making choices that support my strength, health, and life, and also acknowledging how amazing it is that my body has sustained and given life.  It will never be what it was before my kid.  I don't have the time or energy to do the work I did to make it that way.  But I am finding what time and effort I can to make sure I'm the best me that I can be NOW, and that's what really counts.

Dressing Myself Post-Partum

In the weeks after birth, I mostly felt fucking great about my body.  I made and pushed out a whole human, all by myself!  And my body was a champ about labor, birth, and breastfeeding.  I got lucky on all of those things.  But now?  Well.  Now is kind of surprising to me.

I lost a bunch of post-pregnancy fluid and the shape of my pregnant body relatively quickly.  My doula told me on her follow-up visit that I actually needed to eat more because I went back to a smaller body so quickly, and she was concerned about my milk supply with breastfeeding.  And it's true: breastfeeding makes you ravenous.  I had never felt hunger in such an immediate way until I started breastfeeding.

So it was all going okay during maternity leave as I adjusted to a non-pregnant, post-partum, healing, breastfeeding body.  I did the 40 days of confinement (well, for the most part, until I got stir-crazy and went out for 2-hour jaunts just to clear my head).  I started taking longer walks with the baby.  I went back to yoga.  Everything was fine until I went back to work.

Going back to work meant I was around adult people most of the week.  It also meant I needed to look professional.  And that made my leggings + tunic top + messy bun look a thing of the past.  I needed to wear adult person clothes, and that's where my post-partum body feels come in.

So: I obviously gained weight during pregnancy.  I'll be honest and tell you that my total weight gain was 36 lbs.  I lost around 23 lbs in the first weeks after pregnancy.  I have no idea what my weight is now, because I don't own a scale anymore (best decision ever, btw).  Weight isn't really important to me; what's putting my head through the ringer these days is the shape of my body.

I have always been an hourglass shape, at least from the front.  My boobs are kinda smallish, and my booty is bangin' so from the side, I'm a little more pear-ish I guess.  But anyway, after 34 years of dressing my body, I had it down:

  • Fit & flare styles to emphasize my smaller waist
  • Belts, for the same reason
  • Shorter hemlines, because I clock in at 5'1", so I get swallowed in long stuff
  • Necklines that emphasize my shoulders.  I have great shoulders.  Halter tops?  Yes plz.

Well, none of that looks quite right anymore.  I have a post-partum belly - loose skin, fading stretch marks, and extra fat for breastfeeding.  Dresses and fitted shirts don't hit that small waist point quite right.

My thighs have some stretchies too, and along with my upper arms, have gained some pregnancy weight.  Not a whole lot - I've always had big arms and thighs - but I've lost the tone I gained through CrossFit.  That means I'm not confident showing those areas.

Shorter hemlines are okay, but I'm a little more modest, because of the aforementioned thighs + I just had a baby so I'm just more wary about that area, I guess?  And there's the whole chub rub issue with skirts and dresses.

So all that to say that my old clothes are still in storage, and I'm going to have to be choosy about which ones I bring out, i.e. the more blousy tops and looser fitting dresses are cool, but the super fitted stuff will have to wait.

It's disorienting, having a new shape.  I knew the weight gain and stretch marks and extra fat for breastfeeding were going to happen, but I didn't quite understand that the shape of my body would be different.  I'd prepared for bigger, but not multidimensional. 

It's just one of the ways my life has radically changed since having a baby.  There's nothing like becoming a parent for the first time.  I can't say that enough.  It is a stark shift.  It takes some getting used to.

But hopefully, little by little, I'm getting there.

Melissa McCarthy on People Magazine

Melissa McCarthy on People Magazine

And in the meantime, I've decided my totem for this process is Melissa McCarthy.  She's a working mom, proud fat lady, and maker of my for real new favorite clothing line, Seven7

I may have to think of my body differently, but I can take this on as a creative challenge: how to dress this new body.  And that feels better.

Habitual Health: Addition, Not Subtraction

So I got three new kittens recently, and as a consequence I’ve been thinking about them a bunch and not about blogging.  But then my awesome friend Jess messaged me, and that spawned a whole great dialogue about bodies, health habits, and changing things up.


There’s been a really interesting conversation evolving lately about whether or not you can be body-positive and still have goals around your body. More specifically—can you love your body and still want to change it?


It’s a tough one, because I feel like a lot of the time, it can be a very gray slippery mucky area where people say they want to be healthy or stronger or whatever, and really, they just want to lose weight and be more socially acceptable.  And that’s kinda dumb.  If you wanna lose weight, just say you wanna lose weight.  It’s your body.  You can do what you want.  And as a feminist, I believe in bodily autonomy over anything else.


I do think that it’s important to consider WHY you want to lose weight.  In this conversation with Jess, I asked her to examine why she wanted to lose weight.  I’m not the arbiter of what is and isn’t appropriate motivation.  Girl, I get it.  We fight a lot of battles in our time on this planet and this shit is hard.  If you want to lose weight so that bullies stop harassing you, so that your doctor takes you seriously, so that you can land that fly job without interviewer bias, it’s cool.  I personally believe that other reasons can be more fulfilling and that one should take a good, solid look at themselves and learn to live and love what they see first.  Then you can decide what you want to change.  


Jess does that here, and I think her desire to add more muscle and change her body comp based on how she feels is totally sound.  (I’d still have helped her even if the reasons she listed weren’t ones near and dear to my own heart, because I’m not a dick, but it did help me shape what I recommended.)

Above all, I think healthy should be additive, not reductive.  You shouldn't ever feel shame or deprivation.  It's way more fun to ADD stuff to your routine and see what sticks.  So here’s our conversation, complete with my ideas for how one might increase their overall health by adding rad stuff to their routine and making it habitual.

Habitual Health: Addition, Not Subtraction - superbalancedlife.com

Habitual Health: Addition, Not Subtraction - superbalancedlife.com


Jess:  For the very first time in my life, I actually want to lose some weight. This is a new experience for me and I have no interest in engaging in Diet Culture, which I can't see past the marketing of, if nothing else. I love myself and my body enough to want to do so healthfully and mindfully, and as much as I am a mortal human who enjoys overnight results, would be fine with a slow-and-steady progress.  What would your recommendation BE to someone like me?


Kelly: So as a feminist, I totally believe it's possible to love your body and yet also have goals concerning it.  To start off with, let's ask the obvious: why do you want to lose weight?  Once we determine your motivation, that's where we'll start.


Jess: I want to feel less heavy-- I know this is something a lot of people experience, I can actually feel myself carrying this extra weight. I'm not too proud to say that there's some vanity in there. I also want to gain muscle in my core so that I have an easier time hauling my ass (of any size) around. Also, having been very, very thin for bad, injury related reasons, I know what my too-thin feels like and have no interest in being there again. I do not want to lose any more than 12 pounds from where I am right now, and I want to do so in a way that will replace some of the fluff lost with the muscle I never gained back after my injuries, because fuck, being 10lb under your HappyWeight makes you COLD ALL THE TIME.


And energy! This is what I mean about feeling heavy. I'm tired a lot and want to not expend as much effort as I feel like I do in day to day stuff. When the 10 minute walk to the subway feels like a million miles and you can't kick up the speed, something goes off in your head.


Kelly: Ok!  So: a lot of what ails you can be adjusted with switching up what kinds of activity you do, and making some small tweaks to what you eat.  Can you describe what your normal habits look like on both of those accounts?  


Jess: Oh, I am fully aware that my habits are awful! Some of it is because I am so tired so frequently (and for a really long time I have been attributing it almost entirely to job stress and dissatisfaction-- and it did play a part!) I have never loved fruits and vegetables and essentially trick myself into eating them about 90% of the time I do. I can easily go a day without eating a single one, I am working towards fixing that. I am also what a friend of mine has heard referred to as "skinnyfat", where my eating habits can't be described as bad either. I don't eat a lot of sweets, snack food, or fast food. I have, in the last year, eaten a fair amount of convenience food, cans and boxes and the like, and am trying to change that a bit. Kyle and I in general need to be better about actually cooking and getting fresh food in the house, which is hard when you're really busy. But hopefully things are evening out for us a little bit. A lot of it is things I know I should do, but don't.


Activity, not nearly as much as I would like. Because I'm always running around to 10 different things, and tired when I stop, I don't set aside much regular time for focused exercising. I was trying for a while but not very successful. I get around an hour of walking/stairs just commuting every day.  Other stuff, but nothing regular.


My plan in the coming weeks is that when (boyfriend) starts band rehearsals again I'll go to a Pilates class I have taken and enjoyed that meets at the same time. I won't have any distractions, it’s after work, I got it cheap via Groupon, and if I schedule it in advance and am prepaid for it, I won't slack and not go. Raising stakes!  Making myself responsible for it.
For my back I currently do light stretching and foam roller stuff when it hurts. Also trying to do something for that every. single. day. because ow.


Kelly: Hey! No judgment!  We all approach life differently.  I love fruits and vegetables, and I'm totally overweight.  Whatever.  Genetics and proclivities are genetics and proclivities. That said: in order to actually change your body, you must actually change your habits.  I know it sounds reductive, but it's true.  


I feel you on being busy.  It can be hard to do a lot of things, but the truth to life is you have to prioritize what's really important to you.  Hate your job?  Looks like you're setting about fixing it.  Feeling a lot of discomfort, heaviness, ick?  Now's the best time to start making changes that will help you feel a ton better overall.  I promise.


Let's go from "easiest to implement" to "a little harder".  I promise I won't give you anything ridiculous.  You can integrate things as you go along.  All you have to do is promise yourself to keep going.


Movement/Exercise:  So stuff you're already doing: the Pilates class is good.  That should help with some of your pain/discomfort for sure.  Having a strong core helps with everything else.  It's also good to have day-to-day movement built in.  Keep that up.


The biggest change with the highest dividends you can make to your exercise routine will be to add some weight lifting.  I know that may sound a little intimidating, but there's really no other way to add muscle quickly and efficiently.  Also, it doesn't have to be bad or hard.  You may end up loving it.

Habitual Health: Addition, Not Subtraction - superbalancedlife.com

Habitual Health: Addition, Not Subtraction - superbalancedlife.com


You don't have to join a gym, or buy anything for now.  I'd suggest starting with 10-15 minutes of body weight exercises 2-3x per week.  Do it while you're waiting for (boyfriend) to cook dinner, or when you've gotten home before you kick off your shoes and relax.  The thing about setting a healthy habit is that you have to get to it before inertia kicks in.  For me, that means doing it before I go home from work - that may or may not make sense for you.


Intro to Strength Training: Nerd Fitness (Focus on the bodyweight section.  Links to movements inside the article)
Why strength training is good for you: Nerd Fitness

I love Nerd Fitness.  They're legit, and low on the moralizing.


Nutrition:  For nutrition, I'd start small and get better over time.  Get a habit tracking app on your phone, and start tracking habits.  I'd keep it simple—examples:
- Eat 3 servings of vegetables today (sneak them into a smoothie, try them with dips, eat vegetarian for a week and challenge yourself to find recipes you like)
- Eat a fruit
- Have one meal you make yourself
- Drink 48 oz of water

Some core eating habits I try to live by: eat when you’re hungry, eat 3-4 meals per day (no grazing), eat until you’re full then stop, and try to eat mostly whole foods.  

Also, eMeals saved my relationship.  It's an app for tablet or smartphone with EASY recipes and not too many ingredients.  You can make some stuff on the weekend if you have time, and save it/freeze it for easy reheating later.  And they give you a shopping list that you can take to the store. So simple.


So that's a ton of info, but let me tell you what's in it for you: less pain, a better looking and feeling body, the energy to get through your day.  Weight lifting in particular made the biggest body comp change to my body that I've ever seen in my entire life.  Seriously, it was life-changing.  I had a really tight butt, great arms, a smaller waist -- all of it.  It WILL NOT make you bulky.  I promise.  It never has, unless the lady took steroids.  For real.  When I started making these changes, I stopped feeling sluggish, could carry my shit all day, and all my aches and pains got better.  That was reward enough for me.  
So: how does all that sound?


Jess:  It sounds great! What you said in this last paragraph is pretty much everything I want in a more-concise than I said it nutshell. Specific thoughts following!


Movement: I actually LOVE weightlifting, I just never do it successfully outside of a gym, and I just dumped my gym membership so I could afford these Pilates classes. My chiropractor actually specifically recommended them, and as habits go they will be easier for me to incorporate than a gym since they have a set date and time. There's a very, very light free-weight fly the chiropractor gave me too that I just need to make habit. I actually would NOT mind bulking up on top so you don't need to talk me down from that! Will definitely check out that link.


Nutrition: Your first set of bullet points are definitely a thing I am trying to work toward. I started having a smoothie every day for lunch, but the pineapple in it was hurting my mouth and I would come home hungry and cranky (even though I felt fullwhen I was finished with the smoothie). I'm glad the weather is cooling off because that'll make the very act of cooking, and perhaps meal prep, much, much easier. Also, it'll let me sneak my veg in soup (I just got some for lunch now!). As for core eating habits, I am already mostly successful at these things-- 3 meals, when I'm hungry and usually not before. Stopping when I'm full.  Been working very hard to not eat while bored.  I need a book or something. When we cook, it’s often whole, but not as often as it could be. Frankly I need to learn to cook better in general. I have a food-tracking app I have used before. It’s pretty focused on raw calories, which I don’t super mind, because knowing I will have to type my food in makes me pause before I eat it and go "do I want to do this".


We just successfully have been making cold brew coffee to save money, so I am optimistic that I could do a weekday breakfast prep thing. I really want to make those omelet muffin tin things I've been seeing around, because I love a good spinach omelet and spinach can come frozen and organic and be just as healthy for me as fresh without wilting.


Kelly: My favorite smoothie recipe:
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup mango chunks (fresh or frozen)
1 banana
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup baby spinach leaves

It's SUPER GOOD.  You don't taste the spinach at all.  Nothing in it should hurt you.  It's very tropical and keeps you full because of the coconut milk.

Habitual Health: Addition, Not Subtraction - superbalancedlife.com

Habitual Health: Addition, Not Subtraction - superbalancedlife.com


I make these egg muffins a ton: Egg Muffin Recipe

Cooking spray prevents them from sticking, and then you just reheat.  My fave combo right now is baby spinach, feta, and roasted red pepper (from a jar, cut up).  So good.


So it seems like the answer now is to do the Pilates + the lightweight fly, and start with that.  Those are your exercise habits for the next month.  Then, whenever those classes are up or you feel done and can afford it, hit the gym for more robust weight lifting.  I am SO GLAD that you have none of those concerns.  I love weightlifting and I wish more women would do it, to preserve their skeletal muscle later on.


For food, I'm super glad to hear you have mostly healthy habits.  Not eating while bored is totally a thing.  One of my friends says it's helping her to have something to do with her hands.  Another friend says that drinking a glass of water when she's snacky helps her see if she's hungry or not.


I spend Sunday afternoon doing 3 hours of meal prep.  I make egg muffins, get smoothie ingredients together, and make my bagged lunch for the week.


Jess: Update! I had a very happy weekend, kicked off by our conversation, and while I didn’t watch my eating, I was very active, and have a habit tracker app and feel like I can do it. I'm going to try to drink an amount of water, eat one fruit and one veg serving per day, do my chiro-prescribed exercises every single day, and take vitamins including probiotic and fiber. Trying to set myself up for success! And I know from experience that taking a multivitamin with iron prevents PMS weight gain (which is insignificantin the long run but very, very annoying.)


Kelly: That all sounds great Jess!


Jess: Day 2 and I am on my way to meeting those goals again. Thank you for realizing that sometimes you have to just be a nerd who loves checking off to do lists before being a "health conscious person" whatever that means or, honestly, deciding what not to eat. I'm already feeling more positive because I have A Plan.


Kelly: Totally. That's the WHOLE THING.  Like, all of it.  If you can get that down, the results will come.


Jess: Word. I am ready. I ate both fruit and vegetables 2 days in a row before I was even done with work. One thing I run into that I think lots of people have trouble with is like wtf is a serving of these things. I ate a wrap that had cucumbers and carrot in it. No idea how much because I didn’t make it myself. Easier to check yes or no, at least at this stage, than to worry about a measure.


Kelly: Yes, totally.


Jess:  Keeping the habits up, finding fruit harder than veg. Really glad today was soup weather! Hale and Hearty cream of tomato with orzo and chicken is super delicious and filling and the only eh factor is salt.


Peeing constantly because lots of water. Takes some getting used to. But definitely feeling a bit more energetic and less beat at the end of the day. Hope its not placebo! haha.

Kelly: It’s totally not, and even if it is, who cares!  Enjoy that feeling, girl.

Anyone else want to weigh in on additive health habits they've implemented?  What's been successful for you?  And even more interesting, what hasn't?

A Conversation

I was chatting with my good friend Michelle about bodies and weight loss and self-acceptance and love the other day.  I'd sent her Nourishing Wisdom a couple weeks ago, a follow-up to an evolving conversation we've been having since she came to visit me in February.  With her permission, I'm sharing parts of our conversation here, because it's a good one.

Love who you are. - superbalancedlife.com

Love who you are. - superbalancedlife.com

Michelle: Getting down to my lowest weight did not magically take away any of my self hate. It just meant I was very small, which frankly looked weird, and I was cold ALL the time.

It's just difficult when you're a very goal-oriented person not to think of yourself in that way. How do we balance a healthy desire to achieve goals with self-love and acceptance?

Kelly: I think the first step is to make the goal loving yourself.  So the goal becomes 1. Read this book about self-acceptance,  2. Make an art journal, 3. Listen to this CD series about self-love,  4. Go to yoga x times per week, etc.  You slowly move the goals to be more self-loving things, and you focus on behaviors, not outcomes.

When you do these practices enough, it becomes easier to think of your body in a different way. It's the attachment to it "having to be this way" that's causing you pain.

I've noticed it a lot with clothes, like, "I want to wear these pants again." And that's totally fine. However, it's my attachment to that idea that's causing drama. It's fine to want to wear them. But it's not okay when I base my happiness on being able to wear them or not.

There are other pants. There are other vintage dresses. There are many ways to be, all worthy of love and acceptance.

Michelle: It's like a kind of refocusing . . . every time I feel myself becoming anxious over the competing priorities in my life, I remind myself to think of loving myself first. What does it mean to choose the loving option? Frequently, it means backing the eff off of the absurd expectation that I can fit it all in without causing harm, and choose the path that will bring the most peace. Today, that means not going to the gym in order to focus all my time on my paper tonight.

And clothes are so tough. I feel like we define ourselves by them in so many ways.

Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. It helps when you realize that today is only one point on a long journey. My body has changed so much because of derby, CrossFit, hormones, pregnancy, non-pregnancy... I just can't hate on it anymore. It's so nice to me. It carries my soul across long-distances. It stretches and bends to accommodate whatever I need. It doesn't complain overmuch, given what I ask it to do all the time.

And when it DOES complain, I need to listen. Last week I was super not feeling CrossFit or eating any particular way, because I was just so emotionally and physically tired. And this time, I listened. I took the week off in a sense. I did what I felt would serve me and my body best. I went to the chiropractor, I got a massage. And I did end up doing one day of lifting, because I felt good that day.

And as it turns out, giving myself the room to do what I needed and wanted meant that this week, I am feeling much more like killing my workouts and eating salads out of mason jars. Now, everyone's mileage may vary. But that's how it was for me.

All this was made possible though, honestly, by a moment where I just threw up my hands and thought "I'm done. I cannot walk another step in self-improvement fueled by disappointment in my body any fucking longer. I surrender. Even if it means that I'll be chubby the rest of my life."

It was that surrender, that total acceptance - even at rock bottom - of myself that's made everything work.

Michelle: I love this: I cannot walk another step in self-improvement fueled by disappointment in my body any fucking longer.

And I could alter it for myself by substituting disappointment in with “fear of”...and hopefully the surrender part will just happen. I'm only just understanding what a traumatic couple of years it has been, for me and for so many of my friends. Things are hard enough already without piling self hate on top. It helps no one.

Kelly: It really doesn't. And honestly, when you told me "I'm happier in a smaller body", I took it at face value. But a small part of me asked, "Yes, okay, but what are you doing to get there? What is the cost of it?" Because I look at pictures where I was my thinnest, and I know that that girl was "happier", but only to the extent that happier meant "more free of the crushing weight of my fear of being a larger person in this world".

I was more free of it, because I was smaller. But my own self-acceptance and okayness with being a plus-size (well sort of - I'm an inbetweenie) woman is a harder-won, better, and harder victory.

My point is: being fully in your body, accepting its wrinkles, curves, dimples, freckles, age spots, bunions, stretch marks, rolls, whatever ... it's really hard. But it feels fucking awesome when you get there. Because you can go out to dinner and really ask yourself: what do I really *want*? What does my body feel like it *needs*?

And it tells you. When I get home from the South I crave piles of vegetables. I like having a lot of vegetables every day because I grow them in my garden, and that relationship with the earth and soil, combined with creative cooking, has changed my relationship with plants.  Now, I like them. But I also like ice cream. And either choice is fine. I just have to listen to what’s best for me in that moment.

But when you accept your body as okay, those choices become about you. Not about what all the other external voices have to say. The body has a wisdom to it, a deep intuitiveness. And we can tune in, or we can tune out. But the choice becomes less fraught when we know we are okay.

I had a shitty body day. Here's what I did.

On a pretty standard Tuesday, my brain was being a real asshole.  It seems to be fixated on my tummy lately, and is being a cranky bitch about my cushier frame these days.  "I should be back to my pre-pregnancy weight by now!" it hollers.  "I shouldn't have this extra padding around my belly and thighs.  And my ass is extra enormous now.  How am I gonna get a strict pull-up now???"

It was pretty unbearable, being stuck with my jerk-ass brain.  So I decided to do something about it.

First, I started reading this:

Hot and Heavy - Superbalancedlife.com

Hot and Heavy - Superbalancedlife.com

I decided it's time to own my body, right where it is.  Part of that means owning "Fat" as an adjective, instead of a pejorative.  Because: why the hell not? 

So far this book is the shit.  I'm only a little bit in though, so we'll see.  I love the hell out of Virgie Tovar.  Man, that gal is rad.

Next up, I bought these.

Cute Butt Club Sticker Pack.  Buy it here:  Etsy .

Cute Butt Club Sticker Pack.  Buy it here: Etsy.

Cute ladies with big thighs, hips, and bottoms?  PURCHASED. 

Something about looking at those ladies makes me really happy.  You can totally be cute with big-ass thighs and the rest of it.  If you find some rad art that has bodies like your body represented in a cool way, I suggest you get that shit for your wall.

After all that, I asked my partner to take me rollerskating. 

rollerskates at the rink

I'm a retired roller derby girl, and skating in my happy place.  Just rolling around, doing figure eights, and cross-overs and the rest to disco and R&B and pop lights up my heart.  If you're feeling terrible about yourself?  Go play. 

I know all those professionals tell you to exercise if you're feeling depressed, but honestly, who wants one more chore to do when they're feeling bad?  No one.  Find some type of physical play you enjoy, and go do it.  For me, that's skating.  For you it might be playing Marco Polo in the pool, or moving your shit to some old house jams.  Just do it.  Your endorphins will thank you.

Lastly, I made some art.  Because.

Bullshit. - Superbalancedlife.com

Bullshit. - Superbalancedlife.com