Baby steps

It’s 10 am. I’m about to take my break, a nice walk in the Texas sun to slay my coworkers in a pedometer challenge. I stand in the work room, arms out, and drop my torso down near my knees. 1, 2, 3, 55 times.

What’s up, lil pup? I’m addicted to quantifiable physical challenges – this time the 30-day Squat Challenge app. I’ve written about my past forays into running, an activity I’ve put on hold for the time being because of recurring foot injuries. Now I’m getting experimental with new activities. I’m 13 days into the squat challenge, doing 60 today. I’ve integrated hand weights back into the mix, huffing and puffing, thinking about Madonna’s Gollum arms.

These new physical challenges – the pedometer, the squats, the Michelle Obama quest – they’re part of a larger experiment for me. I’m embarking on new routines to seek new fulfillment. A friend recently asked me what my goals were for the next six months and I was blanker than a ‘90s kid’s check. Now that I’ve finished school, gotten a job, revamped my painting business, and set up a comfortable home, I am reframing my goals. They are no longer these big adult milestones – they are smaller, quieter, check marks on a to-do list, adding up to a marked up piece of paper crumpled in the recycling.

Here are my new micro-goals, quickly amassing check marks and contributing to a feeling of progress:

  1. Eat more vegetables – even if this means hiding spinach in my food, like I’d do for a child
  2. Practice my yeses and my nos: cancel when being alone will contribute to a balanced brain; take on new challenges that scare me.
  3. Do a little bit everyday. This is a holdover from my Make days. Even if I have to force myself to paint one stroke, it’s momentum that adds up.
  4. Get back on the horse. One piece of fried chicken doesn’t mean a spiral into a life of sin. One mistake at work doesn’t mean burying myself in tasks I know are easy.

The check might not be blank, but $5 a thousand times is, well, you know your times tables.

What are some of your smaller goals right now? What are the baby steps that are contributing to your mental or physical health? How have you found happiness through small changes?

One Year: Body Talk

I’m unreasonably obsessed with TimeHop. For those unfamiliar, it’s an app that aggregates your social media posts and photos from years past on that date. It helps me celebrate, and celebrating is one of my greatest skills. I’ve celebrated the anniversaries of concerts, of meeting friends, of other people’s weddings, and today, I’m celebrating the first birthday of Yoga Farts.

Yoga Farts was a project to motivate me to write, reflect, take care of myself, and connect with others – and wow, it has not disappointed. The blog transformed from a Tumblr to an honest-to-goodness website. Since then, I’ve written about exercise, skincare, eating, mental health, and so on, ad infinitum. One of the greatest self-care skills the blog has provided me with is the power of reflection. So much of life is mindless – the snack you have at 3 pm, the scrolling you do before bed, the “lol” texts you send in response to a well-timed gif – but Yoga Farts has given me a space to say, here’s what I’m going to do, and here’s why.

That said, in a series of posts, I want to return to some of my favorite pieces from the past year and explore how I’ve been doing.

First and foremost: food.

In January 2017, I wrote a post called Weighing In. This has been my post popular post on Yoga Farts to date, and I have some theories as to why. First, weight is a huge struggle for so many people, and we’re often curious about other people’s journeys. Second, the subject can be so taboo – this post was insanely difficult to write, as I struggled to love myself as numbers piled up on the scale. I wondered how many had noticed as I put on pounds, but more than that, I wondered how many people had experienced similar struggles. So I wrote.

In a follow-up post about how I felt about my weight gain since 2010, I wrote, in painstaking detail, about what I was doing about it. This was maybe the third hardest thing I’ve ever written. Dieting is so incredibly personal. Since I wrote that post, I have fallen on and off the food tracking wagon. I have suffered from debilitating injuries. I have had too much wine. I’ve eaten cakes. I’ve celebrated with margaritas – hell, I’ve just celebrated margaritas. But I’ve held fast to the principle that food can be my power instead of my downfall. I’ve gained weight since those January posts – I’ve cried about my body, I’ve lamented salads, I’ve sat in support groups. Most recently, while listening to an episode of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast I usually love so much, I felt a simmering rage at a “body positive” take-down of diet culture. Just as I cannot stand, I cannot support, the crippling societal message to women that their value is their thinness, I found myself feeling the same strong emotions about these women telling OPRAH that she has been tricked by diet culture and that she’s perpetuating the oppression of the cult of undereating. I still struggle with throwing off the yoke of thin-centric body image – but have found the body positive movement telling me how I should feel about my body equally demanding and demeaning.

Woo! That one was a doozy. Takeaways: I’m still striving to love my body. It’s a process. I’m learning not to listen to anything Society capital S has to say about who I am. The inimitable Zelda Barrett put it thusly: “Your body is yours and yours alone and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel at home again.”

As the inimitable Emma Marie Martin put it, “Society can call me when it decides if it wants me to be thin or fat. I’m just gonna be over here doing me.”