It was Sunday and I was doing stand up for the first time in nearly a month.
I was rusty and I didn’t really have any new material or care to put in the effort to write better jokes.
So my good friend Kimmy lugged me out of the house and we hit two all-female open mics (Bunt Cake Mic and Laughing Buddha Ladies Mic you should try them out!). I felt empowered having all those ladies around me and excited to grab the microphone.
I felt good.
And then I got on stage.
I was doing my “brain bits” and I ended up trying a new bit about how weird it is when people say they’re sorry about my injury…which leads me to fuck with them mid-conversation and pretend like I’m remembering a bunch of repressed memories and that I didn’t actually have a brain bleed on a blind date, but that I’m remembering the person saying sorry having stabbed me in the back of the neck at brunch.
Et tu, Britney?!
Yeah, still working on it.
Anyway, Kimmy records me on my phone and we head to the next mic where I decide to do my “Angel Dicks” premise instead, which goes well in a room full of women who are really tired of men bragging about them.
I’m funny. We’ve established that.
It was viewing the playback of the video that was the problem.
When I watched the first video I saw one word burn into the screen hotter than the stage lights on my curly mop top: “pregnant.”
I looked pregnant.
To confirm this fact, the 4-year-old I nanny poked my stomach last week and asked me if I had a baby growing inside of it.
Now before you get all woke on me about this and tell me to shut my mouth, I’d like to remind you that I get to decide how I feel about my body. Me. Just me.
So what I say kind of goes in this situation. To be clear there is quite a long list of things I actually love about my body. Including but not limited to: my kick-ass curly hair, my baby blues, and my adorable tiny feet that are so ridiculously small that they get stuck in sidewalk cracks sometimes.
That joke was for you, Kimmy.
I can blame the oversized shirt I was wearing or the lighting or the fact that I wasn't even remotely “sucking it in.” But at the end of that video, I was sure of one thing: it was time for a change.
So after a few phone calls to trusted health allies (Alexis P. and Emily H. ladies, you are simply crushing it right now and Wellness Con Katie, your community is beautiful), I decided I was going to cut the crap. I need to be healthy.
Mmmm, now don’t you notice that I didn’t say SKINNY?!
Did you catch that little detail?
If you don’t recall, I’d attempted a health journey last summer and documented my results on my blog. I tried a 30-day Cleanse Diet program suggested by a great friend and experienced some initial success.
But there was a problem. For that attempt, I’d only wanted the Before and After shot; the famous picture I’d seen so many of my friends posting on their Facebooks and Instagrams the past year. I wanted that too! I wanted to wake up and casually post a pic of the new me, the better me. I wanted all my ex-boyfriends to slide into my DM’s and tell me how foolish they’d all been in leaving my sexy new ass.
As one would imagine, I gained it all back (and then some) almost instantly. And with it, an even lower sense of self-worth.
See, because of my fucking mindset. Oh, and cheese fries.
I’d gone into that “weight-loss” journey with just that, an unrealistic goal to lose weight on a scale. Nothing else.
I didn’t care to educate myself on nutrition, I just wanted to pop a pre-made smoothie in the blender and forget about it. I didn’t want to read up on exercise techniques. I figured I would just run a few miles every couple of weeks and call it good.
Because changing your body is hard work.
It requires almost a complete overhaul of lifestyle to truly see a difference. And the fact of the matter is that most of us don’t want to alter our belief system just to fit into skinny jeans.
But we really should.
And that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m educating myself on my own body, talking to people who have had successes of their own, and trying to find the best path for me. I’m listening to podcasts, reading books, and joining online communities where I can learn about this weird sack of human bones and muscles and fats and awesomeness that I walk around in all day but have no idea how it actually works.
But as cool as that is, somehow I’ve still caught some flak for it.
From friends, family, the internet.
“You don’t need that fancy gym membership!”
“You’re wasting your precious money!”
“Those supplements are all evil!”
“Your personal trainer is an anarchist!”
And y’all mean well! Really, you do. The intent behind these statements is surely: “I love you and I want you to be happy!”
And I love you for this intent.
But do you know what those words really do?
They take the wind right out of my sails and make me feel like a god damn lunatic. Like everything I’m doing is somehow wrong and I should stop doing all of it because that’s what everyone is telling me to do and they love me so they must be right, right?
My suspicions are that people who love me say these things because they themselves wouldn’t do them. They wouldn’t spend the time or money or take a risk that might not pan out. And hey, that’s cool. You don’t have to!
It really is an investment. Not just monetarily, but emotionally, physically, and probably spiritually to some degree.
So far for me, it has been very taxing on my pocketbook and my planner. This is a choice I made because I lack the skills and motivation to do this journey alone. And maybe that will change down the road once I get a solid foundation.
But it’s like that one little company called Microsoft that a few people invested in back in the 80's and everyone was all, “what are you doing Bill Gates this technology stuff is crazy AND THE ROBOTS WILL KILL US ALL.”
Who are we to judge if a few of those silly investors just so happen to be multi-millionaires now?
You didn’t invest.
Shit, I didn’t invest. But I was also not alive.
There’s also an added element here that we should consider, and that’s my favorite thing about me: my brain injury.
2014 was a real rough year for my body. Immediately after a breakup that summer I lost about 15 pounds because I stopped eating and started running like a crazy person. A real rom-com stereotype. My roommates tried to force-feed me but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat. I was depressed.
And then my head exploded and I lost another 20 lbs. of muscle mass.
Fucking muscle mass, you guys!
I also temporarily lost my taste buds on the left side of my tongue so not only was I so sick I couldn’t eat, but if I did I couldn’t enjoy it anyway.
Fast forward to me leaving the brain rehabilitation center after several weeks of regaining my motor functions, and I walk out with…wait for it…a pamphlet on nutrition!
With pictures of vegetables on it!
Yay for me! I can eat veggies on a white circular plate!
Well, my taste buds came back, y’all. And like, have you heard of mac and cheese though?
There was no guidance, no mentorship when it came to this sort of thing. I had no tools for nutrition or wellness post-injury and I was so god damn tired all the time from relearning how to walk that I wasn’t about to start rewiring my belief system too.
And I don’t regret that.
Do you have any idea how good food tastes when you can’t taste for 3 months?
It was like a multi-layered foodgasm every time I put something in my mouth. And it was fucking awesome.
But here I am, four years later, refusing to post an Instagram comedy video because I can’t stand the sight of my own body bombing up on the stage.
But you know what? My eyes are open now. Painfully so.
I had my first (and complimentary!) personal training visit at my gym and she pinched some fat on my arms and tummy to reveal that I was 34.5% body fat.
Above 30% is considered…obese!
I was shocked. And honestly not that surprised. And more than anything, I really wanted to understand what had gone wrong since my slimmer glory days. Back when I played college ice hockey but still ate whatever I wanted and could somehow fit into any clothes I needed to. I still wasn’t healthy back then, but at least I could squeeze into my jeans from high school.
But I’m not looking to lose weight. I actually don’t want to lose anything. I want to gain. I want to gain confidence and strength and willpower and lift a fucking car over my head just because I can.
This, my friends, is a true health journey.
It’s not a 30-Day Gut-Busting Juice Diet or a Slim-Down-Now Extreme Exercise Subscription. It’s not going to happen quickly. And I’m going to be a real human about it and eat a piece of chocolate if I want a piece of chocolate. Just not the whole bag. And I’m not going to be shameful about it either.
It’s a brain game. And I have a long way to go to truly understand what my brain and body really need in order to be healthy and operating at peak performance. There’s a reason I fall asleep standing up at work every day at 3:30 PM and cycle back into unhealthy eating habits to try to temporarily ease the emotional pain.
I’m not healthy. And that’s something you can’t always see on a little number on a scale. It’s deep inside my body, cradled inside my neurons and in the dark corners of my mind.
I’ve got my work cut out for me. And I hope that you do too. I hope that you seek knowledge as power and work your ass off for what really counts: health.
And I hope you keep your well-intentioned (and bullshit) weight-loss remarks to yourself 😂❤️️👏
Editor's Note: As of this morning's measurements with my Personal Trainer, I am down approximately 5 lbs. of fat with a total body fat composition of 30.6%. Ah, hell yeah.