Let’s Stop Pretending It’s “So Easy” To Be Healthy

The biggest lie you’ve ever been told about building a healthier life is that it’s easy.

Show me any fitness magazine or Pinterest search and I’ll show you photos of models who are smiling like they just won the lottery, not a drop of sweat on their bodies, demonstrating “easy 15-minute strength workouts” before you flip the page to a collection of “super simple 20-minute recipes” that are “omg so easy to make!”

And you know what I have to say to all of that? Fuck off. Seriously, fuck off.

Working out isn’t easy. Being mindful about what you eat isn’t easy. Meal planning and grocery shopping and preparing food and then actually following through on your plan to eat said food in between getting your ass off the couch to work out isn’t easy. It’s hard – and it’s especially hard in the beginning.

When I first started running, I wanted to die 100% of the time. The first time I tried to hold a plank for more than 10 seconds, I fell on my face. When I began cutting out sugar and processed foods and forcing more green things into my mouth, I wanted to gag. Everything tasted like the ground and I didn’t want to chop so many vegetables and what the hell do you mean I should be eating chia seeds? Isn’t that what chia pets are made of?! Get out of here with that shit. My tastebuds hadn’t yet adapted to the new foods and my body hadn’t adapted to the new exercise and I was sore and frustrated literally every single day.

Even now, more than four years into this lifestyle, there are still plenty of days when it isn’t easy. My running and salad-making habits are solidly on point, but there will never, ever, ever be a time when going running and preparing a healthy meal is as easy and effortless as laying on the couch eating an entire sleeve of Oreos. Never ever.

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Just Because It Hasn’t Happened Yet, Doesn’t Mean It Won’t

It was 2009, and we were drunk – on tequila and on each other.

It was the all-consuming, stormy kind of love. The kind that makes you feel like every moment is bringing you closer and closer to the eye of a hurricane, and even though you know you could get swept away and completely destroyed, you can’t stop.

That’s the way we fell into each other, right from the beginning. There was no gradual build, no cautious behavior. One day I had no idea who he was, and the next day he filled the spaces between each and every second that ticked by.

He loved me in a way that made me feel invincible. I wanted to pour his love all over me and splash around in it for the rest of my life.

But I wasn’t ready. I tried to splash around, but it was too deep. I was drowning.

“I just can’t,” I said.

And so we didn’t.

Years went by, and I traveled from city to city. Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, New York, DC. He went from city to city, too, and we crossed paths in San Francisco.

“I miss you,” he said.

“I just can’t,” I told him.

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The Milk Story

My mother doesn’t like when I tell the milk story.

“It makes me sound like a terrible mother,” she exclaims.

“But you aren’t a terrible mother,” I reply. “That’s why it’s funny.”

“It’s not funny to me,” she glares. “And a joke isn’t funny unless everyone is laughing.”

“Are you in kindergarten?”

More glaring.

“Listen, if I wanted people to think you were a bad mother I’d have plenty of more substantial things to tell them than the milk story.” I grin sarcastically at her.

“You,” she says, “are a brat.”

“Possibly,” I reply, “but I’ve never dumped a carton of milk on your head.”

That’s usually where the conversation ends, unless there’s a third party present who begs me to “tell the milk story! tell the milk story!” and then I, of course, tell the milk story.

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4 Years Later

Today is my four-year sober-versary.

Four years ago today, alone in a studio apartment in downtown San Francisco, I stood in the bathroom, faced the mirror, looked myself straight in the eye, and said, “That’s it, you’re done.” I put both hands over my heart, took a deep breath, and promised myself that I would do whatever it took to never drink again.

Looking back now, I see that as a defining moment. Dramatic, pivotal – the ultimate plot-twist of my life without which everything would be different. Which is why it’s so odd that at the time, it didn’t feel like a big deal.

Here’s the truest thing I can tell you about how I felt when I first quit drinking: I wanted to change my life without actually changing my life.

I was serious about giving up alcohol, but I was desperate for everything else to stay exactly the same. I had built my entire life around drinking, and I clung to the possibility that I could somehow quit drinking and keep the rest of my life intact. I imagined drinking to be like that one leftover screw that remains after you’ve spent two hours assembling your new bookshelf.  How important could that little screw really be? The bookshelf is complete, isn’t it? So you shrug, stack your books on the shelf, toss the screw in the junk drawer, and hope for the best.

That’s how getting sober was for me.

And at first, it worked. I went with my boyfriend to a champagne lounge and drank sparkling water. I met my friends for happy hour and had a club soda with lime. I showed up for the theme parties, festive costume and glittery headband securely in place, and I let drunk strangers slur their apologies for spilling beer on my shoes. When my friends went to the club, I went to the club. When it was time to start drinking at 7am on the morning of an all-day drinking parade in San Francisco, I was there bright and early and smiling. Everything I did at that time, every choice I made, screamed, “SEE? I HAVE NOT CHANGED! I AM STILL FUN!”

My biggest fear was that I’d stop being fun.

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